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Ukraine troops seek to 'trap Russians in Bakhmut'

STORY: Ukrainian forces say that they're continuing to advance on the northern and southern flanks of the city of Bakhmut, in an attempt to encircle and trap the Russian troops inside - just days after Moscow claimed to have finally captured it through eight months of grinding warfare.

And the developments are now giving both sides reasons to claim that momentum is in their favor... in a landscape Ukraine's President Zelenskiy has recently compared to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

This was video released by Russia's Wagner mercenary group over the weekend, claiming to show its forces raising their flags in the rubble.

Reuters was able to verify the drone views but not when it was filmed. Ed Arnold is with the Royal United Services Institute think tank in London:

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"It looks like Bakhmut is still contested."

"But ultimately speaking, you need to see the battle in a wider picture. The Russians have pushed everything they had at it since August, and they've only just sort of captured the town. But equally, when you look at the imagery, I mean, there's nothing left of the town. It's a very insignificant point on the broader map. And actually what it's really been about is trying to fix each force so that they can't fight in other places within Ukraine."

"The issue now is that the Russians will just find themselves in an area that they might not even be able to stay in long term because the infrastructure does not exist, so then the ability to then keep the city in their hands and then continue further west is going to be very, very difficult."

Meanwhile, in another mocking public statement against Russia's regular military establishment, the Wagner Group's head Yevgeny Prigozhin has repeated his vow to pull his mercenaries out of the city starting on May 25th, handing over control to government forces.

He is accusing the military of abandoning the flanks even as his mercenaries advanced, which the defense ministry denies.

The coming weeks will show how just much the massive losses in the Bakhmut have impacted the wider war.