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Media claim Zelenskyy acknowledged loss of Bakhmut, President’s Office denies it

Sunday, 21 May 2023, 09:33
Media claim Zelenskyy acknowledged loss of Bakhmut, President’s Office denies it

Some of the world's leading media outlets are reporting that on Sunday, during his visit to Japan, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he was not sure that Ukraine's Armed Forces were still in control of the city of Bakhmut, which has now been destroyed by the Russians. Later, his press secretary denied this. It is not clear from the president's answer which question he was answering.

Source: DW; AP; The Guardian; Serhii Nykyforov, spokesman for President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Facebook; Financial Times correspondent Christopher Miller on Twitter

Details: The media reported that when asked during the G7 summit in Hiroshima whether Ukraine controlled the city, Zelenskyy replied: "I think no."


Quote from Zelenskyy: "You have to understand that there is nothing [left]. They [the Russians – ed.] have destroyed everything.

For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts."

Update: Later, Serhii Nykyforov, Zelenskyy's press secretary, posted that the president had actually denied the loss of Bakhmut.


The spokesman wrote that Zelenskyy had been asked whether the Russians had captured Bakhmut, to which he replied: "I think no." 

The international media are still reporting that Zelenskyy was asked whether Bakhmut remained under Kyiv's control.

Judging by the video, the question was: "Mr President, is Bakhmut still in Ukraine's hands? The Russians are saying they took Bakhmut." Zelenskyy's reply was: "I think no".

Financial Times correspondent Christopher Miller tweeted that the Ukrainian president's entourage has a different explanation for Zelenskyy’s answer.

They say Zelenskyy was talking about Bakhmut being lost in the sense that it has been completely destroyed.


  • On 20 May, Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin posted a video near the railway station in the centre of Bakhmut, claiming that his mercenaries had seized the city completely and that on 25 May, they would hand over its "defence" to regular Russian army units and leave.
  • The Ukrainian Defence Ministry denied that Bakhmut has been captured, as despite the "critical situation" in the city, Ukrainian soldiers control some sites.
  • Afterwards, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin congratulated Wagner and promised the occupiers state awards.

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