Village 7 kilometers north of Bakhmut fully controlled: Wagner Group
Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin announces the take-over of Berkhovka in the Donetsk People's Republic.
The founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that Berkhovka, a village seven kilometers north of Bakhmut, also known as Artyomovsk, has fully come under the control of the Russian forces.
"Berkhovka is fully taken under our control. Wagner PMC units are in full control of Berkhovka," Prigozhin stressed on Friday via the group's Telegram channel.
Artyomovsk is in the Donetsk People's Republic and constitutes a significant transport hub for supplying Ukrainian forces with their needs in Donbass.
Ukrainian Deputy PM urges Bakhmut residents to evacuate
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Irna Vereshchuk urged, on February 17, all residents of Bakhmut to evacuate from the city immediately. "I appeal to the civilians who are still in Bakhmut. If you are adequate, law-abiding and patriotic citizens, you must evacuate immediately," she wrote on Telegram.
The official declared that up to 6,000 people were still present in the city that was taken over by Russian forces, adding that staying could "expose them to danger...second, you are creating additional problems and risks for all those people who are trying to help you (the military, the national police, volunteers). Third, you prevent our defense and security forces from working normally in the city. Because they have to be concerned about your safety all the time. Therefore, I once again urge you to evacuate immediately."
Russian forces have so far gained ground in the northern part of the strategic city of Bakhmut and blocked at least three out of four routes supplying Ukrainian troops.
Read more: Bakhmut might fall to Wagner PMC: Pentagon