Ukraine pulls out of all but 'insignificant' sliver of Bakhmut, pivots to encircling Russian forces

Ukrainian troops outside Bakhmut
(Image credit: Sergey Shestak/AFP via Getty Images)

Russia's Wagner Group paramilitary forces captured all but an "insignificant" corner of Bakhmut from Ukrainian defenders, Ukrainian Gen. Oleksandr Syrsky said Sunday, a day after Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin declared victory in the decimated town. But Ukrainian forces continued their advances on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut and are "close to tactically encircling the city," Syrsky added. Ukraine's control of the high ground around Bakhmut will allow it to defend vital supply lines, shell Russian forces inside the ruins of the city, and prevent further advances westward, analysts said.

The nine-month battle for Bakhmut was the bloodiest of Russia's war on Ukraine, and Russia's state-run Channel 1 declared "mission accomplished" on Sunday, comparing Wagner's capture of Bakhmut to the Soviet army's capture of Berlin in World War II. Russian ultranationalist military bloggers also "celebrated the alleged capture of Bakhmut but emphasized that 'Bakhmut is not Berlin' and that the capture of the city would be simply another step in ongoing difficult operations to achieve Russian objectives in Ukraine," the Institute for the Study of War reported.

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