HIROSHIMA, Japan, May 21 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appeared to confirm the loss of the city of Bakhmut to Russia on Sunday, when asked if it remained in Kyiv’s control.
“I think no,” he said ahead of a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Japan. “For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts.”
Russia claimed on Saturday to have fully captured the smashed eastern Ukrainian city, which if true would mark an end to the longest and bloodiest battle of the 15-month war.
“It is tragedy,” Zelenskiy said. “There is nothing on this place.”
The assault on the largely levelled city was led by troops from the Wagner Group of mercenaries, whose leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said earlier in the day that his troops had finally pushed the Ukrainians out of the last built-up area inside the city.
Kyiv had previously denied Prigozhin’s claim.