Kyiv: Ukrainian troops have partly encircled Bakhmut, still control part of city

FILE PHOTO: A general view shows an empty street and buildings damaged by a Russian military strike in Bakhmut

KYIV (Reuters) -Ukrainian forces have partly encircled the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut along the flanks and still control a part of the city, Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said on Sunday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Sunday congratulated the Wagner mercenary force and the Russian army a day after Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his group had captured the city.

But Maliar said Ukrainian troops are continuing their advances along Bakhmut's outskirts and have claimed part of the heights overlooking the city.

"Our forces have taken the city in a semi-encirclement, which gives us the opportunity to destroy the enemy," she wrote on the Telegram messaging app.

"Therefore, the enemy has to defend himself in the part of the city he controls."

Maliar added that Ukrainian troops are still defending industrial and infrastructure facilities in Bakhmut as well as a private sector of the city.

(Reporting by Dan Peleschuk; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, William Maclean)