Bakhmut is not occupied by Russia as of today, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said at the press conference following the G7 summit in Japan on 21 May 2023. Answering the questions of journalist, Zelenskyy was asked whether the battle for the city was still ongoing despite the statements of the Russian head of Wagner Mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, that Russian troops had completely occupied Bakhmut on 20 May 2023.
“Bakhmut is not occupied by the Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words,” Zelenskyy said.
As was reported, Ukrainian troops withdrew from most of their last positions in Bakhmut on 20 May 2023. At the same time, Ukrainian deputy defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on 21 May 2023 that Ukrainian troops maintain control over industrial and infrastructure facilities and the private sector of Bakhmut in the “Litak” area, which is the city’s southwestern outskirts.
Maliar also claimed that the situation for Russian soldiers in Bakhmut is complicated:
“The enemy failed to surround Bakhmut, and they lost part of the dominant heights around the city.That is, the advance of our troops in the suburbs along the flanks, which is still ongoing, makes it very difficult for the enemy to stay in Bakhmut. Our troops took the city in semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy.Therefore, the enemy has to defend himself in the part of the city he controls.“
Ukrainian commander of the troops in Bakhmut direction, General Oleksandr Syrskyi, also gave his update on the situation:
“Despite the fact that we now control a small part of Bakhmut, the importance of its defense does not lose its relevance. This gives us the opportunity to enter the city in case of a change in the situation. And it will definitely happen. We continue to advance on the flanks in the suburbs of Bakhmut and are actually approaching the capture of the city in a tactical encirclement. Thanks to this, we will be able to control all high-rise buildings occupied by the enemy and gradually destroy them. This deprives the enemy of control over the approaches to the city and gives us certain tactical advantages. While working with the commanders, we discussed in detail our actions and the procedure for destroying the enemy. Therefore, we continue the defense. The situation is difficult but under control.”