World

‘There is nothing left’: Zelenskyy says Bakhmut is destroyed – but denies Russians have control

Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said “there is nothing left” in Bakhmut, as Russia claimed control of the city after months of fierce fighting which has left it in ruins.

The country’s president said the invading forces had “destroyed everything”.

Mr Zelenskyy was speaking alongside US President Joe Biden at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan.

Relentless Russian shelling has left few buildings standing in the eastern Ukraine city, which has also witnessed ferocious house-to-house battles.

Asked if Bakhmut had fallen to Russia, Mr Zelenskyy said: “You have to understand that there is nothing”.

“They destroyed everything.”

The latest updates on the war in Ukraine

More on Russia

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player


2:44

Wagner Group: ‘Bakhmut is taken’

“For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts,” he added.

“There is nothing in this place.”

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated his troops for capturing the city. which is in the Donetsk region.

Use the sliders below to see Maxar satellite images of Bakhmut 12 months ago compared to today

The Kremlin’s defence ministry and head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had both claimed the city was under Russian control on Saturday.

Mr Prigozhin said: “We completely took the whole city, from house to house.

“We fought not only with the Ukrainian armed forces in Bakhmut.

“We fought the Russian bureaucracy, which threw sand in the wheels.”

Read more:
Terror and desperation inside Bakhmut’s blackened nightmare

Appearing in a video in front of fighters holding Russian flags and Wagner banners, he said his forces would withdraw from the city from 25 May for rest and retraining, handing control to the regular Russian army.

According to Russian news agencies, Mr Putin said those who had fought in Bakhmut had distinguished themselves and would be given awards.

Fighting has raged in and around the city for more than eight months.

Russian forces will still face the massive task of seizing the remaining part of the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control, including several heavily fortified areas.

Kyiv has previously said its aim in Bakhmut was to draw Russian forces in and inflict high casualties to weaken Moscow’s defence before a major counter-offensive.

Mr Zelensky underlined the importance of defending “fortress Bakhmut” in March, saying its fall could allow Russia to rally international support for a deal that might require Kyiv to make unacceptable compromises.

Analysts have said Bakhmut’s fall would be a blow to Ukraine and give some tactical advantages to Russia but would not prove decisive to the outcome of the war.

Russian forces will still face the massive task of seizing the remaining part of the Donetsk region still under Ukrainian control, including several heavily fortified areas.

The provinces of Donetsk and neighbouring Luhansk make up the Donbas, Ukraine’s industrial heartland where a separatist uprising began in 2014 and which Moscow illegally annexed in September.

Articles You May Like

Significant support for Ukraine at peace summit – but key nations hesitate
‘Bairns not bombs’: SNP calls for end to two-child benefit cap and pledges NHS funding boost
Dozens of police officers are powerless on French beaches as people smugglers exploit loopholes to pack dinghy
Dozens of people stuck upside down 100ft in the air on amusement park ride
This fintech configures expense cards to block misuse — and investors just backed it with millions