© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man in camouflage uniform leaves the PMC Wagner Center, a project carried out by businessman and founder of the private military group Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint P
(Reuters) – Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner Group, said on Sunday that mercenary forces had captured the village of Krasna Hora on the northern edge of the conflict-torn Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Bakhmut, a city in the eastern region of Donetsk, has been the scene of brutal war conflicts for months. Kiev’s top military commander, Valery Zaluzhny, said on Saturday that Ukraine still held Bakhmut, trying to “stabilize” the front line around it.
In an audio message released by his press service on the Telegram messaging app, Prigozhin said: “Today, the settlement of Krasna Hora was captured by the assault troops of the private military company Wagner.”
Prigozhin also published a short video in which the Wagner family can clearly be seen at the entrance to Krasna Hora, which had 600 inhabitants before the war.
Reuters could not independently confirm that the village had been taken.
Wagner’s group, a once secretive mercenary force fighting for Moscow’s allies in Africa and the Middle East, has been leading the assault on Bakhmut for months, making small but steady successes.
In his audio message, Prigozhin also said that only Wagner’s troops were fighting in a “radius of more or less fifty kilometers” around Bakhmut, and if the city was taken, it would be by Wagner’s units. He added that Wagner is not fighting in other areas of the front further north or south.
Prigozhin had previously been involved in public spats with the Russian Ministry of Defense, which he accused of taking credit for Wagner’s successes.
Prigozhin said in an interview published on Friday that his forces must capture Bakhmut to continue their campaign, but faced fierce resistance from Ukrainian defenders.
He also said it could take Moscow two years to control the entirety of the two eastern Ukrainian regions it has cited as a key war objective.