Russia's Wagner mercenary group has started withdrawing its forces from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut and transferring its positions there to regular Russian troops, its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video published on Thursday.
"We are withdrawing the units from Bakhmut. From today at five in the morning, May 25 until June 1, most of the units will rebase to camps in the rear. We are handing our positions to the military," he said.
The video was posted on Telegram by his press service, and showed Prigozhin dressed in battle gear and standing beside a war-damaged residential block.
Prigozhin announced the capture of Bakhmut on Saturday after the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.
In the latest video Prigozhin, who has repeatedly voiced public criticism of senior Russian defence officials, said his forces would be ready to return to Bakhmut if the regular army was unable to manage the situation. (Writing by Felix Light, editing by Mark Trevelyan)