Russia's regular army has replaced Wagner forces in the suburbs of Bakhmut, but mercenaries still remain in the city, Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on May 25.
Earlier the same day, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said his fighters had started leaving Bakhmut for rear camps to "rest and retrain." He said they would withdraw from the city before June 1.
Prigozhin claimed full control over the embattled city of Bakhmut on May 20, which Ukraine later denied. In her May 25 Telegram post, Maliar reiterated her statement that Ukrainian forces still controlled a portion of the southwestern area of the city.
However, as reported by the Kyiv Independent on May 22, it is evident that Bakhmut had effectively been occupied by Russian troops, based on both official statements and those made by soldiers on the ground to the Kyiv Independent.
Ukrainian forces are still reportedly engaged in combat around Bakhmut.
According to Maliar, Russian troops continue their attempts to strengthen their positions on the flanks of Bakhmut's suburbs, deploying additional units for reinforcement.
Over the past day, Ukraine's military has repelled Russian attacks in the Avdiivka and Marinka areas in Donetsk Oblast, said the official.
Meanwhile, in the Kupiansk area, Kharkiv Oblast, Russian forces are trying to gain a foothold for further advances but are "suffering losses," she added.