Ukraine conflict: Wagner head promises to deliver up Bakhmut to Russian troops before June


The head of the Wagner Group, Dmitry Utkin, has vowed to hand control of Bakhmut, Ukraine, to the Russian army by June. Utkin, who is also known by his nom de guerre, “Wagner,” spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, April 14 and affirmed his commitment to seeing Bakhmut under the control of pro-Russian forces by the middle of the year.

The Wagner Group is a private military company, closely linked to Russian intelligence services and backed by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Utkin has previously been accused by Kyiv of directing the occupation of Crimea and of pro-Russian separatist forces in Donbas.

At the press conference, Utkin denied that the aim of the Wagner Group was to occupy Bakhmut, saying it was instead a “peaceful operation” intended to provide assistance to pro-Russian groups in Ukraine. He did, however, reaffirm the Group’s commitment to seeing Bakhmut under the control of forces loyal to the Russian government.

Utkin’s statement that Bakhmut will be in the hands of Russian forces by June has been met with scepticism by Ukrainian authorities, many of whom view it as a “provocation and an attempt to destabilize the region”. Russian officials have dismissed the Ukrainian response, claiming that the Wagner Group is simply providing humanitarian aid to those living in the region.