“Ukraine controls a third of Bakhmut, as confirmed by international observers,” Leshchenko said during a press conference broadcast by the presidency’s account on Telegram.
But he denied that Russian forces were besieging the city, as previously confirmed by a pro-Russian local official.
The commander of the Russian “Wagner” military group confirmed on March 20 that his elements, who are fighting in the front lines in this battle, control “about 70 percent” of Bakhmut.
Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, has become a symbol of the battle between the Russians and Ukrainians to control the Donbass industrial region, due to the length of the ongoing battle around it and the heavy losses suffered by both sides.
In recent months, Russian forces have advanced in the north and south of the city, cutting off a number of Ukrainian supply routes and taking control of the eastern part of it.
And the American Institute for the Study of War announced on Wednesday that Russian forces control about 65 percent of Bakhmut, after advancing in the past five days, especially in the east.
For its part, the Ukrainian army says it has “proven” the situation on the ground and intends “very soon to take advantage” of Russian fatigue to launch a counterattack.
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