Russian Mercenaries Have Surrounded Ukrainian City of Bakhmut: Reuters

Russian troops and mercenaries have surrounded the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, according to the leader of the Wagner private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Reuters reports.

In a video shot on the outskirts of the city, Prigozhin said the pincers were “closing shut,” and that the city was now almost completely surrounded, with only one road still open for Ukraine’s troops.

Russian troops and mercenaries rained artillery on the last access routes to the besieged Ukrainian city on Friday, damaging a bridge in the adjacent town of Khromove.

The move comes after months of bloody fighting in the region, and is being seen as a major victory for Moscow.

The head of the Wagner private army said they had been fighting a professional Ukrainian army but were now encountering more and more old men and children.

“They are fighting, but life under Bakhmut is short. A day or two,” Prigozhin said.

The Wagner chief urged Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky to allow his forces to retreat from Artyomovsk, also known as Bakhmut, as the camera panned to what appeared to be captured Ukrainian soldiers, including a man with a long gray beard and two very young-looking men.

They issued a plea to Zelensky, asking him to let them return home to their families and loved ones and not to ignore their request.

Reuters reporters observed intense Russian shelling of routes leading west out of Bakhmut, apparently an attempt to block Ukrainian forces’ access in and out of the city.

Bakhmut has been left in ruins as a result of the ongoing conflict.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian armed forces are suffering from a deficit of artillery, ammunition, warplanes, and tanks, according to a Friday statement from Zelensky.

Speaking during a joint press conference with his Latvian counterpart Egils Levits in Lvov, Zelensky claimed that, due to the shortage of weapons and ammunition, the West must speed up arms shipments to Ukraine, TASS reports.

“Artillery is the number one thing that we need. Both systems and ammunition, shells in large amounts,” the Ukrainian president said.

The situation in Ukraine has been tense since the 2014 coup in the country that resulted in the removal of pro-Russia president Viktor Yanukovych and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia, with ongoing clashes between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists in the eastern Donbass region.