Wagner boss calls on Zelenskyy to retreat from ‘practically surrounded’ city
The boss of wacko fighting group Wagner has called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to withdraw troops from the besieged city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who heads up the extremist paramilitary group, says Ukrainian soldiers are "practically surrounded" by Wagner fighters.
Prigozhin said there was only "one route" left for Ukrainian forces in a propaganda video published today.
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Prigozhin, donning a military uniform posted on social media, saying: "Units of the private military company Wagner have practically surrounded Bakhmut. Only one road is left (open to Ukrainian forces) The pincers are getting tighter."
Prigozhin’s claims have not been independently verified.
The video was filmed at the village of Paraskoviivka, 4.3 miles north of the centre of Bakhmut, which Prigozhin announced the capture of on February 17.
The video then showed what appeared to be three Ukrainian prisoners of war – an older man and two young boys – asking to be allowed home in a highly distressed tone.
Prigozhin added: "The [Ukrainian soldiers] are fighting, but their lives near Bakhmut are short – a day or two. Give them a chance to leave the city. The city is in fact surrounded."
The Wagner boss published another video yesterday appearing to show his fighters inside Bakhmut.
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The footage was geolocated to the east of Bakhmut, about 1.2 miles from the city centre.
It was the one-year anniversary of Russia's full scale invasion of Ukraine this time last week (February 24), with little sign that hostilities between Ukraine and Russia are likely to end any time soon.
Ukraine is continuing to receive huge military supplies from NATO countries including tanks and armoured vehicles, which have stunted Putin's ambitions in the country.
However, despite the Ukrainian President's pleas, the West has still so far refused to send fighter jets, fearing this could see them drawn into the conflict.
About 200,000 have gathered in Moscow to hear Vladimir Putin speak at a pro-war rally ahead of the first year anniversary of the war, with huge crowds chanting in praise of the war.
The president took to the stage to a rapturous welcome at the event called 'Glory to Defenders of the Fatherland'.
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