Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian private military company Wagner, on Thursday claimed via Telegram the group had begun to withdraw combat units from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin, who is suspected of many war crimes, said the main part of the units would be transferred to adjacent localities, while their current positions would be handed over to the military.
Prigozhin announced on May 20 that Wagner had established “full control” over the city of Bakhmut.
On May 21, President Vladimir Putin "congratulated” the Wagnerians and the Russian army on the completion of the operation “to liberate Artyomovsky”, as Rusians refer to the city.
On May 22, Prigozhin said the group would leave Bakhmut between May 25 and June 1, adding Wagner had lost 20,000 fighters in the battle for Bakhmut, and half of them were former convicts.