Newly released photos show devastation in Bakhmut
Newly released photos show the near total destruction of Bakhmut as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky likened the damage caused by Russian forces to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
Harrowing images from the eastern Ukrainian city, that Russia now claims to have captured completely, show buildings ravaged by a nine-month-long bloody battle.
Smoke billows out of the empty shells of apartment blocks that used to house the city’s 70,000 residents.
While it “wouldn’t be fair” to compare the attack on Hiroshima to what was happening in his country, Mr Zelensky said at a G7 visit to a Hiroshima memorial, “the pictures of ruined Hiroshima really totally remind me of Bakhmut.”
“Nothing alive is left,” he said.
“We are fighting on thanks to the courage of our warriors”.
Asked if it was still in Ukrainian control, the president said: “I think no.” He then added that “for today, it is only in our hearts.”
Ukraine said on Monday its troops were still advancing on the flanks of the devastated city, although the “intensity” of their movement had decreased and Russia was bringing in more forces.
“Despite the fact that we now control a small part of Bakhmut, the importance of its defence does not lose its relevance,” said Col-Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of ground forces for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“This gives us the opportunity to enter the city in case of a change in the situation. And it will definitely happen.”
The fog of war made it impossible to confirm the situation on the ground in Bakhmut. Russia’s defense ministry said Wagner mercenaries backed by Russian troops had seized the city, but Mr Zelensky said Bakhmut was not being fully occupied.
Ukrainian #Bakhmut before and after Russian attack. pic.twitter.com/k6Bvxx55pj
— Maksym Borodin (@adnashmyash) May 21, 2023
In a video posted on Telegram, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed the city came under complete Russian control about midday on Saturday.
Holding a Russian flag before a group of at least nine masked fighters in body army who were toting heavy weapons, Prigozhin proclaimed: “This afternoon at 12:00, Bakhmut was completely taken.”
More important for Ukraine has been the high numbers of Russian casualties and sapping of the morale of enemy troops for the small patch of the 932-mile front line as Ukraine gears up for a major counteroffensive in the 15-month-old war.