Shortly after claiming full control over Bakhmut, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said on May 25 that his mercenaries started withdrawing from the city.
"By June 1, the main part (of Wagner formation stationed in Bakhmut) will be transferred to the rear camps. We hand over positions to the military: ammunition, positions — everything, including ration packs," Prigozhin said in a video posted by his press service.
The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify Prigozhin's claim or the footage provided by his press service.
Ukrainian authorities haven't commented on Prigozhin's statement yet.
When announcing the city's capture on May 20, Wagner's chief said his troops would leave Bakhmut on May 25 for "rest and retraining," adding that the group "will return when help is needed."
Kyiv has denied Prigoshin's claims of taking Bakhmut completely. Ukraine's Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on May 24 that the Ukrainian forces still controlled a portion of the southwestern area of the city.
The Kyiv Independent reported on May 22 that Bakhmut had effectively been occupied by Russian troops. While it has yet to be confirmed by the Ukrainian government, it is evident based on both official statements and those made by soldiers on the ground to the Kyiv Independent.
However, Ukrainian forces are still engaged in combat around Bakhmut, as Maliar reported on May 22.