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Defense Ministry: Russia trying 'with all its might' to seize Bakhmut by May 9
Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar wrote on May 5 that Russia is trying "with all its might" to capture Bakhmut by May 9.
According to Maliar, Russia's Wagner Group mercenaries are being redirected from other positions and replaced with paratrooper assault units that are currently fighting in Bakhmut in an effort to achieve this.
Maliar also wrote that Ukrainian artillery fire destroyed the Wagner ammunition storage facilities, although she did not specify a date when this occurred.
In a video published online on May 5, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that the mercenary group would be withdrawing from Bakhmut on May 10 due to a lack of ammunition.
"I am withdrawing Wagner units from Bakhmut because, in the absence of ammunition, they are doomed to a senseless death," Prigozhin said, adding that the Bakhmut offensive will be handed over to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The date of the withdrawal is highly symbolic as May 9 is a major holiday in Russia to commemorate the Soviet Union's victory against Nazi Germany during World War II, symbolism which Prigozhin himself acknowledged in his talking points.
Bakhmut has been the epicenter of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces for the past nine months.
Wagner mercenaries have served as the primary shock troops in Russia's attempts to expand its control over Donetsk Oblast. However, in the past nine months, they have only made incremental gains, with Ukraine still holding parts of the city.