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Troops from the Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries have begun withdrawing from positions in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine to rest and prepare for their next deployment, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has said in a video report. Russian regulars are to take over the ruined city completely by June 1, Prigozhin said, with two experienced wagner mercenaries remaining in the city to support the Russian army. Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar confirmed that Wagner troops were being replaced by Russian regulars in the suburbs of Bakhmut, but added that Prigozhin’s mercenaries were still in the city itself.

Ukrainian forces remained in control of suburbs in the south-west of Bakhmut, she said. Russian force were using artillery to halt advances by Ukrainian troops on the flanks and were gathering additional troops to secure the flanks, she said. Maliar added that Russian advances in different directions had been repelled. It is often not possible to independently verify such claims from the war zone. (DPA)

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