Prigozhin: Wagner to Handover Bakhmut to Regular Russian Forces After Capture

Ukrainian officials are claiming the city isn't fully captured

Russia’s Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has said his mercenary force captured all of Bakhmut and will hand over the city to regular Russian forces on May 25.

“Wagner has made no advances. Wagner today captured no territory. We have captured all the territory we promised to capture, right up to the last centimeter,” Priogzhin said in an audio message on Telegram on Sunday.

“As we stated yesterday. We are handing over our positions to [Russia’s] Defense Ministry and on the 25th we are leaving the conflict zone,” he added.

Military situation in Bakhmut on May 21, 2023 (

Prigozhin and Russian officials first announced the complete capture of Bakhmut on Saturday. Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner for taking the city in a statement issued by the Kremlin on Sunday.

“Vladimir Putin congratulates Wagner assault teams as well as all Russian troops, who rendered the required assistance and shielded the flanks, with the completion of the operation to liberate Artyomovsk [Bakhmut],” the statement said.

Ukrainian officials are claiming that Ukrainian forces still control a portion of the city. President Voldymr Zelensky appeared to acknowledge that Russia captured the city in a press conference at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, but his spokesman later walked it back. “The president has denied Bakhmut has been taken over,” said Ukrainian presidential spokesman Sergey Nikiforov.

Despite the claims from Ukrainian leadership, Ukrainian soldiers fighting on the frontlines speaking to the Kyiv Independent confirmed that Ukrainian forces lost the last high-rise buildings they controlled in Bakhmut and said fighting was still ongoing on the outskirts of the city.

Zelensky has placed significant value on Bakhmut and previously said if he loses the city, he would come under pressure to “compromise” with Russia. Kyiv had expended enormous resources defending the city in a battle that had been raging since August 2022.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.