Bakhmut suburb under its control after Wagner accusation: Russian Defense Ministry

Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Tuesday that Berkhivka, a suburb of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut that the head of the Wagner militia had accused Russian troops of partly relinquishing, was entirely under Russian control.

“An attack by fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine was successfully repelled by Russian units,” the ministry said on Telegram. “A report by individual sources about the alleged abandonment of Berkhivka by Russian troops does not correspond to reality.”

Berkhivka lies about 3 km (2 miles) northwest of Bakhmut, and Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose forces spearheaded a grinding battle over many months to capture Bakhmut, claimed the capture of the suburb Feb. 24.

Prigozhin has been feuding for months with Russia’s military leadership, accusing them of failing to provide sufficient ammunition and support for Wagner in the field, and so causing it to suffer needlessly heavy losses.

Although Russian regular troops now control Bakhmut after relieving Wagner’s fighters, Ukrainian forces have made advances to the north and south of the city.

In an audio message on Monday, Prigozhin said: “Now part of the settlement of Berkhivka has already been lost, the troops are quietly running away. Disgrace!”

Reuters could not verify the state of affairs on the battlefield.

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