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President's Office urges to 'calmly react to fakes' after Wagner boss claims seizure of Bakhmut administration building
Presidential Office head Andrii Yermak urged to "calmly react to fakes inventing a victory, which does not exist in reality" on April 3, adding that "Bakhmut is Ukraine."
Yermak didn't specify what "fakes" he meant, but he was likely referring to the April 2 statement of Wagner Group's founder and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin said his forces had captured the city administration building in Donetsk Oblast's Bakhmut, raising the Russian flag there.
The head of Russia's state-backed private mercenary group added that Bakhmut is "legally taken" and the Ukrainian forces were "concentrated in the western area" of the city.
Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine's Eastern Military Command, told Reuters that Russian troops were "very far" from capturing Bakhmut, adding that the fighting raged around the administration building, which Wagner's head claimed to have seized.
"They raised the flag over some kind of toilet. They attached it to the side of who knows what, hung their rag, and said they had captured the city. Well, good, let them think they've taken it," said Cherevatyi.
The General Staff of Ukraine's Armed Forces said in its morning update on April 3 that Russian troops "do not stop storming Bakhmut, trying to take it under complete control."
The Ukrainian military repelled more than 30 attacks in the Bakhmut area over the previous 24 hours, according to the General Staff.
About 6,000 Wagner mercenaries, along with 20-30,000 recruits, are now fighting in Bakhmut, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said on March 29, as cited by CNN.
According to Milley, the eight-month-long battle for Bakhmut has become a "slaughter-fest" for the Russian forces.