Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky says Russian troops are in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut but he insists it is ‘not occupied’, while giving a press conference at the G7 in Japan
- Volodymyr Zelensky has refuted claims Russia has occupied Bakhmut in Ukraine
- Yevgeny Prigozhin says Wagner mercenaries will pull out of the city on Thursday
Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky says Russian troops are in Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut but he insists it is ‘not occupied’ – amid conflicting reports.
Answering questions from the media at a press conference following the G7 leaders’ meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, Mr Zelensky was asked whether the battle for the city was still ongoing and whether its defence was worth all the lives that have been lost.
He said: ‘We don’t have simple questions any more, as well as we don’t have simple answers. Because we have a very complicated neighbour, who is a criminal and terrorist, a complicated enemy.
We are keeping young, fighting thanks to the courage of our people, our warriors, and thanks to our cleverness. We are not throwing people to die.’
The Ukrainian president said a counter-offensive is being prepared, telling reporters he is confident of receiving F-16 fighter jets and Russia ‘will feel’ the fightback. His generals also claim they are catching Kremlin forces in a ‘semi encirclement’ around Bakhmut.
Mr Zelensky added: ‘Bakhmut is not occupied by Russian Federation as of today. There are no two or three interpretations of those words.’
Zelensky appeared at today’s press conference alongside President Joe Biden, who has announced the US is granting its 38th military package for Ukraine – worth $375million
The Ukrainian president (centre) said a counter-offensive is being prepared, telling reporters he is confident of receiving F-16 fighter jets and Russia ‘will feel’ the fightback
Zelensky declined to give any further information about the situation in Bakhmut as he appeared at the press conference alongside US President Joe Biden.
The US has pledged its 38th military package for Ukraine, this time worth $375million, as Biden vowed the US ‘will not waver’ in its support of the invaded country.
Zelensky’s comments follow contradictory reports about Bakhmut’s status, as Russia and its mercenary army Wagner announced this morning their troops had taken full control of it.
Earlier during the Japanese summit, Zelensky appeared to suggest that Bakhmut had fallen.
When asked if the city was in Ukraine’s hands, Zelensky said: ‘I think no, but you have to – to understand that there is nothing, They’ve destroyed everything. There are no buildings. It’s a pity. It’s tragedy.’
Zelensky’s press secretary later appeared to backtrack on those comments.
And the spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces, Serhii Cherevaty, said that the Ukrainian military is managing to hold positions in the vicinity of Bakhmut.
‘The president correctly said that the city has, in fact, been razed to the ground. The enemy is being destroyed every day by massive artillery and aviation strikes, and our units report that the situation is extremely difficult.
Our military keep fortifications and several premises in the southwestern part of the city. Heavy fighting is underway,’ he said.
It was only the latest flip-flopping of the situation in Bakhmut after eight months of intense fighting.
Only hours earlier, Russian state new agencies reported that President Vladimir Putin congratulated ‘Wagner assault detachments, as well as all servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces units, who provided them with the necessary support and flank protection, on the completion of the operation to liberate Artyomovsk,’ which is Bakhmut’s Soviet-era name.
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By: Miss Cherry May Timbol –Independent Reporter
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