Ukrainian troops have been repulsed in recent weeks, but ahead of Kiev’s planned massive attack on the invading force along the 1,000-kilometre front, they held firm in the city, inflicting as many losses as possible on Russia.
Ukraine’s armed forces general staff said in an evening report that Ukrainian troops repelled more than 30 attacks on key areas of the front on Friday, with the most intense fighting in Bakhmut and Marinka in the south.
Donetsk region governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said on the Telegram messaging app that Russian missiles hit a heavy machinery factory in the town of Kramatorsk and a household goods factory in the town of Slovyansk. No one was injured in either attack, he said.
Both towns are located west of the front line in and around Bachmut.
Reuters pictures and video from Kramatorsk showed the machinery plant was badly damaged, with windows blown out, outer walls torn and the top floor reduced to a twisted mass of metal and other construction materials.
“Our losses are multiplying every day due to lack of ammunition,” Prigozhin’s statement said. He added that his fighters would have to hand over their positions in Bakhmut to the Ministry of Defense on May 10 before withdrawing to the logistics battalion “to lick our wounds”.
It is unclear whether Prigozhin, who has often made impulsive remarks, will continue to withdraw troops if his men get more ammunition, or if the dispute may prove to be just a smokescreen.
A senior Ukrainian official says Russia is Wagner Mercenary Warrior From the front to Bachmut, capture it before Victory Day.
“We see now that they are pulling (the fighter jets) from the entire offensive line where the Wagner fighter jets were, and they are pulling (them) in the direction of Bakhmut,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Malial said on Ukrainian television.
The Kremlin declined to comment on Prigozhin’s statement.
Earlier, Prigozhin was filmed surrounded by what he said were the bodies of his men, who yelled insults at Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
Prigozhin said Shoigu and Gerasimov must take responsibility for “tens of thousands of Wagnerian deaths and injuries”.
Prigozhin’s vow to withdraw from Bakhmut underscores the strain on Russian forces as Ukraine makes final preparations for a counteroffensive backed by thousands of Western-donated armored vehicles and newly trained troops.
Yevgeny Balitsky, the Russian-appointed governor of Ukraine’s Zaporozhye region, said he had ordered the evacuation of villages close to Ukrainian army front lines, adding that shelling in Ukraine had intensified in recent days.
A Ukrainian counterattack is seen as likely to capture the Zaporozhye region, about 80 percent of which is controlled by Moscow.
Some residents left the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson in cars and buses on Friday, while others stocked up on groceries ahead of an unusually long weekend of curfews.
The announcement of the curfew will run from Friday night until Monday morning, prompting Kherson to speculate that the city will be used as a launching point for counterattacks.
Speaking on his return from visits to Helsinki and The Hague, President Zelensky said that thanks to talks with allies there he had “won a powerful weapon reinforcement for our soldiers – on land, in the air and at sea”.
Meanwhile, grain shipments to Ukraine under a U.N.-backed initiative have slowed amid growing fears that ships will be stranded if the deal is not renewed later this month, sources and data show. Ukraine, Russia, Turkey and the United Nations failed on Friday to approve any new ships under the agreement.
Russia has suffered few direct attacks during the war, but Russian news agencies reported on Friday that its Ilsky oil refinery was hit by a second drone attack in as many days, causing a fire but no casualties. It is unclear who initiated it.