Fighting intensifies in Ukraine’s Bakhmut
Moscow/Kyiv, Apr 13 (EFE).- Russian troops and Wagner Group mercenaries intensified shelling of the besieged Ukrainian town of Bakhmut on Thursday, in an attempt to encircle Kyiv’s forces in the war-torn eastern city.
Wagner mercenaries are engaging in “high-intensity fighting to drive the enemy from the central parts of Artemovsk city,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, using the Russian name for the frontline city.
Russian airborne troops blocked routes into the city that were being used by Ukrainian forces, Konashenkov added in his daily report.
“I don’t know what is happening in the Canary Islands or in New York, but I know perfectly well what is happening in Artemovsk. The Ukrainian army continues to bring reserves into the city,” Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin wrote on Telegram.
“Over 80 percent of Bakhmut is under our control, the remaining parts are still resisting persistently,” Prigozhin added, acknowledging that it was too early to speak of complete encirclement of the ruined city.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Brig. Gen. Oleksii Hromov said Russian forces have continued to fight to encircle Bakhmut from the north and south.
“Every day in the Bakhmut area, the enemy makes 40 to 50 offensive and assault attempts and launches more than 500 strikes using the entire range of available weapons,” Hromov pointed out.
But “only over the past two weeks in the Bakhmut area, the enemy lost almost 4,500 Wagner fighters and service members of the regular armed forces of the Russian Federation killed and wounded,” he continued.
MILITARY AND MERCENARIES
Relations between the Wagner Group and the Russian military have been tense for months but they seem to have improved since mercenary units have been mentioned by name in army reports in recent days.
Western media reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin arranged a meeting between Prigozhin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently to iron out their differences.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said, “I don’t know anything about that,” at a press conference on Thursday.
Russia’s FSB security service accused the military of hiding the true number of Russian casualties in Ukraine so as not to upset senior officials, The New York Times reported, according to a leaked US intelligence document.
The FSB “calculated the actual number of Russians wounded and killed in action was closer to 110,000,” the document said.
The latest official death toll in Ukraine provided by Russia stands at 5,937 servicemen, a figure that was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry last Sept. 21.