MOSCOW, March 31. /TASS/. The Ukrainian military is suffering serious casualties in Artyomovsk (called Bakhmut in Ukraine) but Russian troops still have to take enormous efforts in that area, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner private military company, said on Friday.
"No, the Ukrainian army is not fleeing anywhere. The Ukrainian army is engaged in bloody battles and is defending Artyomovsk at the expense of serious casualties," the Wagner press office quoted Prigozhin as saying on its Telegram channel.
"Another important aspect that should be mentioned is the need to hold the flanks," he stressed.
"Today we need to concentrate efforts in the city because this is an enormous amount of combat work to do. The flanks should not let us down and allied units should hold them," Prigozhin said.
Russian forces "are moving forward and taking every building, every building entrance and every garage between buildings," he said.
"In Bakhmut, there are about 800 high-rise buildings. If we tell about each [building] entrance, you will be tired of hearing it. When we take Bakhmut, then we will talk about that," the Wagner founder said.
Artyomovsk is located on the Kiev-controlled part of the Donetsk People’s Republic and is a major transportation hub for the Ukrainian army’s supplies in Donbass. Fierce fighting for the city is underway.
Yan Gagin, military-political expert and adviser to the acting head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), said on March 22 that the city had been practically sealed off by Russian forces and all approaches to Artyomovsk were under Russian artillery control. He earlier said that Russian forces controlled about 70% of the city.
Acting DPR Head Denis Pushilin has repeatedly said that there is no evidence of the Ukrainian army’s plans to leave Artyomovsk. Meanwhile, Kiev claims that the city’s defense will be bolstered. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky earlier said that Ukrainian troops would not surrender Artyomovsk and would fight for it as long as they could.