The head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group said his troops started withdrawing from Bakhmut. The Ukrainian military said Russian soldiers are replacing Wagner units in the outskirts of the city.
Russia's Wagner mercenary group has started moving its forces out of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Thursday.
"We are withdrawing the units from Bakhmut. From today at five in the morning, May 25 until June 1, most of the units will rebase to camps in the rear. We are handing our positions to the military," he said in a video posted on Telegram.
Prigozhin announced the capture of Bakhmut on Saturday after the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. He said his fighters would pull out by June 1 and regular Russian troops would move in to replace them.
According to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, Russia has replaced its Wagner private military units with regular soldiers on the outskirts of Bakhmut but the group's fighters remain inside the devastated city.
The Ukrainian military said it still controls some objects on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
On Wednesday, Prigozhin said that around 10,000 prisoners he recruited to fight in Ukraine have been killed on the battlefield.