The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said Thursday his forces had started transferring their positions in the flashpoint eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut to the Russian military.
“We are withdrawing units from Bakhmut today,” Yevgeny Prigozhin, shown in full combat gear, said in a video released on social media.
“We are handing over positions to the military, ammunition and everything,” said the 61-year-old ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He was shown speaking to several members of Wagner who told him their military hardware had to be repaired.
Prigozhin added that said some Wagner forces could remain if regular Russian troops encountered difficulties.
Wagner’s forces have been leading the all-out, months-long assault for Bakhmut.
Both Wagner and the Russian army said over the weekend that Bakhmut had fallen, but Ukraine has said its troops continue to fight for the devastated city.
Prigozhin said Wednesday that around 10,000 prisoners he recruited to fight in Ukraine had been killed on the battlefield in the pro-Western country.
Last year, Prigozhin toured Russian prisons in a bid to convince inmates to fight with Wagner in Ukraine, in exchange for a promised amnesty upon their return if they survived.
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