Russian mercenary boss publishes video showing fighters inside Ukraine's Bakhmut

FILE PHOTO: Wagner private military group centre opens in St Petersburg

(Reuters) -The founder of Russia's Wagner mercenary force on Thursday published a video showing his fighters inside Bakhmut, the small Ukrainian city Wagner has been fighting to capture for months.

Wagner has spearheaded Russia's assault on Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of 75,000, and has made steady but incremental progress around the city's outskirts in recent months, endangering Ukraine's supply lines.

In a post on Telegram, the press service of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner's founder, cited him as saying: "The lads are mucking about, shooting home video. They brought this from Bakhmut this morning, practically the centre of the city."

Reuters geolocated the footage to the east of Bakhmut, around 1.2 miles (around 2 kilometres) from the city centre. Reuters could not independently verify the date on which it was filmed.

In the video, uniformed men are shown lifting a Wagner banner atop a semi-ruined multi-storey building. One of the men is shown dancing and holding a guitar, a reference to Wagner's informal nickname of "the musicians".

Ukrainian forces were reported to be hanging on to their positions in Bakhmut early on Thursday, but to be under constant attack from Russian troops seeking to claim their first major victory for more than half a year.

(Reporting by Felix LightEditing by Andrew Osborn)