Ukraine killed dozens of Wagner mercenaries as they tried to flee Bakhmut

Ukraine has claimed that it killed 80 feared Wagner soldiers and injured scores more as they retreated from their 'successful' campaign in Bakhmut.

The brigade, headed by Vladimir Putin's former chef Yevgeny Prigozhin, declared victory in one of the bloodiest battles of the Kremlin chief's 'special military operation' after nearly a year pummelling the city in eastern Ukraine.

But as they upped and left the city to hand it over to regular Russian forces, they were reportedly ambushed by Ukrainian troops — who managed to kill 80 and maim a further 119.

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Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern group of Ukrainian Forces, told news outlet Ukrinform: "In recent days, we have seen a significant decrease in fighting, there were 2-3 clashes. This day there were none at all.

"The enemy continues to rotate, withdrawing the 'Wagner' group, replacing it with units of airborne troops and motorized infantry."

He said Wagner's withdrawal from Bakhmut 'has a depressing effect on those who take their place'.

"They themselves have already taken part in a lot of fighting, this is the second or third group that comes in, plus they see the condition of the criminals from Wagner mercenaries," he added.

Prigozhin said in a video on Thursday (May 25) that the group's mission in the city was complete.

"We are withdrawing units from Bakhmut today. We are handing over positions to the military, ammunition and everything," he said.

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"We pull back, we rest, we prepare and then we will get new tasks," Prigozhin reportedly told his troops.

Prigozhin did concede that 20,000 of its fighters had died in the eastern Ukrainian city.

Even still, retired Russian colonel Rustem Klupov claimed that the group are ready to be called on at any time, from any place.

"Wagner does not cease to be our operational-strategic reserve, which can always be quickly pulled out from anywhere in the world, even from Mars, and they will fight," he said.

He added that the capture of Bakhmut wasn't of great 'strategic importance', but it was more of an 'ideological' victory.

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