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Ukraine's military has likely pushed Russia's Wagner Group fighters back from Donetsk Oblast's 0506 route in one of its latest achievements in the Bakhmut sector, the U.K. Defense Ministry reported on March 29.
The minor rural road linking the towns of Chasiv Yar and Khromove has become a critical supply line for Ukrainian defenders, the ministry wrote. Previously, Wagner troops had been holding positions within several hundred meters of the route.
According to the ministry's latest intelligence update, fighting continues in Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut, but "Russian assaults are still at a reduced level compared to recent weeks."
Despite recent Russian media reports of the state-backed mercenary group Wagner taking full control over the AZOM industrial complex in northern Bakhmut, the area "likely remains contested," reads the update.
"With Wagner having now confirmed the release of at least 5000 prisoner fighters, personnel shortages are likely hampering Russian offensive efforts in the sector," the report added.
The Wagner Group, founded and led by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's confidant Yevgeny Prigozhin, has supported the regular Russian army in its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, particularly in eastern Ukraine near Bakhmut and Avdiivka.
According to the latest assessment by the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces have advanced another five percent of Bakhmut in the last seven days and currently occupy roughly 65 percent of the city.
In an interview with the Associated Press published on March 29, President Volodymyr Zelensky backed his decision to continue the defense of Bakhmut, while Western officials claim a possible loss of the city would not be a critical juncture in the war.
Zelensky told the AP that Russia might start gathering international support for a deal that could force Kyiv to make unacceptable compromises if Ukraine doesn't win the 7-month-long battle for Bakhmut.
"If he will feel some blood — smell that we are weak — he will push, push, push," Zelensky said about Putin.