Prigozhin made the claim in a video in which he appeared in combat fatigues in front of a line of fighters holding Russian flags and Wagner banners, Reuters reported.
“Today, at 12 noon, Bakhmut was completely taken,” Prigozhin said. “We completely took the whole city, from house to house.”
The Wagner boss also said it will hand control of Bakhmut to Russia’s army by May 25 and withdraw its fighters, AFP reported.
“By May 25 we will completely examine (Bakhmut), create the necessary lines of defence and hand it to the military,” Prigozhin said. “We ourselves will go into field camps.”
Ukraine: Fighting goes on
However, Ukrainian military spokesperson Serhiy Cherevatyi told Reuters: “This is not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”
Bakhmut has been the focus of the longest battle of war in Ukraine, which is nearly at the end of its 15th month.
Prigozhin taunted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and U.S. President Joe Biden, who were taking part in a Group of Seven summit in Japan on Saturday where the Ukraine war was front of mind for world leaders.
Addressing Zelenskiy, Prigozhin said: “Today when you see Biden, kiss him on the top of his head, say hi to him from me.”
Zelenskyy arrived Saturday in Japan for talks with the G7 leaders.
Zelenskyy’s in-person visit to the G7 summit came just hours after the United States agreed to allow training on potent American-made fighter jets, laying the groundwork for their eventual transfer to Ukraine.
According to a U.S. official, President Joe Biden will also announce a $375 million military aid package for Ukraine while in Hiroshima.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package will include artillery, ammunition and HIMARS rocket launchers.
Russia’s deputy defense minister, Alexander Grushko, accused Western countries of “continuing along the path of escalation,” following the announcements that raised the possibility of sending F-16s to Kyiv.
The G7 vowed to intensify the pressure in its joint statement Saturday.