Kremlin-controlled private mercenary Wagner Group forces have likely taken the AZOM industrial complex in the northern part of the city of Bakhmut, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update.
According to the think-tank's assessment, Russian forces have advanced on another five percent of Bakhmut, located in Ukraine's eastern Donetsk Oblast, in the last seven days, and currently occupy roughly 65 percent of the city.
The ISW cited Russian military bloggers who "widely claimed on March 28 that Wagner fighters had captured the AZOM complex and are working to clear the area of remaining Ukrainian forces."
The bloggers' claims are "relatively consistent" with available geolocated footage that confirms Russia's presence at the complex that shows a military correspondent from the Russian state-controlled media outlet RIA Novosti with "apparent ease, " the ISW said.
Other Russian military bloggers claimed also on March 28 that Wagner fighters had advanced closer to Bakhmut's city center and taken control of the city market, the ISW wrote. These claims are also backed up by geolocated visual evidence of Wagner's advances toward the city center on March 28, according to the update.
The ISW assesses that "Wagner is likely working to consolidate gains in northern and central Bakhmut to push towards the city center and expand its zone of control into western Bakhmut."
The Wagner Group, founded and led by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin, has been supporting the regular Russia army in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, particularly in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.