Headline RoundupMay 21st, 2023

Russian Forces Claim Bakhmut, Ukraine Offers Conflicting Comments

Summary from the AllSides News Team

Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed full capture of Bakhmut Saturday afternoon.

The Details: Kyiv initially denied the claims, saying heavy fighting was ongoing, and the situation was “critical.” The Kremlin congratulated Wagner and state forces for the capture. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a Ukrainian spokesperson then offered mixed messaging.

Key Quotes: Zelenskyy, speaking at the G7 Summit, “Bakhmut is only in our hearts” and that the Russians destroyed “everything.” The spokesperson later clarified, “The president denied the capture of Bakhmut.” Prigozhin said, “Today, at 12 noon, Bakhmut was completely taken.” The Wagner leader, who has recently feuded politically with The Kremlin, added, “We fought not only with the Ukrainian armed forces in Bakhmut. We fought the Russian bureaucracy, which threw sand in the wheels.”

For Context: Bakhmut has been one of the longest and bloodiest battles in Ukraine. It has become a symbolic battle for Russia, although Western experts, like The Institute for the Study of War, dispute the utility of the city’s capture. Russian forces have been close to the capture of Bakhmut for several months. Prigozhin said Wagner will now delegate control of the city to the Russian military.

How The Media Covered It: Outlets across the spectrum covered the events similarly. Headlines varied, highlighting Russia’s claims, Zelenskyy’s comments, and his spokesperson’s clarification, though they did not appear to correlate with biases. Independent war reporters, including pro-Ukrainian ones, have corroborated Russia’s claims.

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