Russian Wagner boss: Bakhmut practically surrounded

STORY: Russian troops and mercenaries were closing off the last access routes to the besieged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on Friday (March 3).

On the cusp of Moscow's first major victory in half a year after the bloodiest fighting of the war.

This video released by the head of Russia's Wagner private army shows his fighters inside Bakhmut, which has been blasted to ruins. Reuters verified the location of the video, but not could not independently verify its date.

In a separate video released on Friday, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said he was calling on President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to order the evacuation of Bakhmut to save the lives of Ukrainian soldiers.

Adding that the city was practically surrounded - with only one route out left open for Ukraine's troops.

From visible buildings, Reuters determined the footage was filmed in a village four miles north of the center of Bakhmut.

A deputy commander in the National Guard of Ukraine, speaking on Ukrainian Radio, called the situation, quote, "critical".

Reuters journalists west of the city saw Ukrainians digging new trenches for defensive positions there.

As residents of nearby villages fled their homes.

The commander of a Ukrainian drone unit inside the city for months said he'd been ordered to withdraw.

Victory in Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, would give Russia the first major prize of a costly winter offensive after it called up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year.