The leader of “Wagner” Evgeny Prigozhin stated that “Wagner” continues to surrender positions in Bakhmut to the Russian Ministry of Defense and retreat from the city.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defense of Russia is fulfilling its agreement, actively deploying regular Russian units to positions held by “Wagner” in the city of Bakhmut.
About this writes ISW.
PMK leader Prigozhin stated that PMK “Wagner” is conducting an organized exit from Bakhmut, and confirmed that by June 1, the Ministry of Defense of Russia will fully control the city and its surroundings.
Footage was also published of Prigozhin visiting the Russian rear positions, where the Wagnerites were allegedly retreating.
At the same time, ISW observed no visual confirmation that regular Russian forces had taken Wagner’s positions in Bakhmut itself, or that Wagner was leaving the town. ISW recently observed video footage purporting to show elements of the 123rd Brigade of the Donetsk People’s Republic, believed to have previously been stationed near Siversk, operating in the Bakhmut area, with DPR forces possibly replacing the Wagner formation.
Ukrainian sources claim that Wagner’s troops are still present in Bakhmut, and the pace of Russian offensives around the city continues to decrease. Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar reported that regular Russian units replaced Wagner units in the suburbs of Bakhmut, probably referring to the flanking areas around Bakhmut. Malyar claimed that Ukrainian troops still control positions on the southwestern outskirts of the city, and “Wagner” troops are still present in Bakhmut itself. Ukrainian sources continue to report that the pace of Russian offensive operations around Bakhmut has slowed following claims of Russia’s capture of the city. The Ukrainian General Staff reported that on May 26, Russian troops conducted unsuccessful offensive actions near Bakhmut and in the direction of Predtechyny (15 km southwest of Bakhmut).
The continuation of successful limited Ukrainian counterattacks on the flanks of Bakhmut could complicate the Russian relief operation on the ground in Bakhmut. Russian military bloggers claim that Ukrainian forces conducted successful counterattacks near Orikhovo-Vasylivka (11 km northwest of Bakhmut) and Klishchiivka (7 km southwest of Bakhmut).
It is also alleged that Ukrainian counter-attacks near Orikhovo-Vasylivka caused units of a private military company to retreat up to a kilometer from their positions in the area.
Military bloggers claimed that Ukrainian forces had captured the heights along the E40 highway (Bakhmut-Slovyansk) near Orikhovo-Vasylivka and that fighting was ongoing in the area.
One Russian military blogger claimed that Ukrainian forces had advanced toward Klishchiivka and crossed the Siverskyi Donets Canal, possibly threatening to encircle the town and force Russian forces to retreat eastward. However, geolocation images released on May 24 and 25 show that Russian forces may have reestablished limited positions west of Klishchiivka. ISW has previously assessed that it may be difficult for Russian forces to provide assistance in place of Wagner’s forces at Bakhmut, and that successful limited and localized Ukrainian counterattacks are likely to complicate their ability to do so. The slowdown in Russian offensive operations in the Bakhmut area and the announcement of a heavy relief operation on the ground are likely to give Ukrainian forces in the area the initiative to launch a new phase of operations around the city if they so choose.
We will remindthe representative of the National Guard, Colonel Mykola Urshalovych, reported that the Ukrainian defenders are making progress on the northern and southern flanks of Bakhmut.
National Guardsmen in the Bakhmut direction continue to conduct aerial and radio-electronic reconnaissance to identify areas of concentration of enemy manpower and equipment. The defenders also destroy the radar stations and means of radio-electronic warfare of the occupiers.