Donbass city fully liberated Yevgeny Prigozhin

Russian troops have completely liberated the strategic Donbass city of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine), the scene of a gruelling battle for many months, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed yesterday.

The operation in the city was executed by the Wagner private military group with artillery and air support from regular Russian forces, the MOD announced.

The statement came hours after Wagner chief Evgeny Prigozhin announced on social media that his fighters had taken complete control of the city.

Ukraine denied that the city had fallen, however. Deputy Defence Minister Anna Malyar claimed that the statements about the capture of Artyomovsk were “premature.”

A salt mining city with a pre-conflict population of 72 000, Artyomovsk has been the stage of a bloody battle for many months as Russian forces nearly encircled it and methodically pushed the Ukrainian Army from the western suburbs. The city was largely destroyed during the fighting.

Prigozhin warned earlier this month that his soldiers were taking heavy casualties due to ammunition shortages. He later said the situation with supplies had improved and that Wagner troops were clearing the last pockets of resistance.

Meanwhile, Islamic countries do not support the West’s sanctions on Russia, and the agreements signed at last week’s Kazan economic forum prove this, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin told RT on Saturday.

Bringing together delegations from Russia and the countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the “Russia-Islamic World” forum in the city of Kazan resulted in hundreds of meetings and more than 100 trade agreements being signed, Khusnullin said.

“The forum has become a place where political and economic interests have gathered, because the countries of the Muslim world support us,” he stated. “None of the countries of the Muslim world support sanctions against us.”

While a handful of Arab nations – most notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt – formally condemned Russia over its military operation in Ukraine, no Islamic nation has followed the West’s lead and imposed economic sanctions on Moscow.

Trade between the Islamic world and Russia has continued largely unimpeded, and Khusnullin revealed that more deals are in the works, including bilateral agreements on agricultural products and Halal food, crude oil processing, and banking.

Increased trade will be facilitated by the construction of the International North South Transport Corridor, a 7 200-kilometre span of ship, rail, and road routes for moving cargo between India, Iran, Azerbaijan, Russia, Central Asia, and Europe. Moving freight from Russia to India is quicker and cheaper than via the traditional Suez Canal route, while eliminating the risk posed by EU sanctions.

“A lot of ground has been covered here,” Khusnullin said.

“People have exchanged connections, questions, and contacts, and this will give more and more momentum for the future.” – Russia Today.

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