The head of the Russian mercenary Wagner group claimed on Saturday that his forces had taken control of the town of Bakhmut after the longest and toughest battle of the war in Ukraine, but officials in Kiev have denied that.

In a video posted on Telegram, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said the city came under full Russian control by noon on Saturday. He spoke flanked by half a dozen fighters, with destroyed buildings in the background and explosions heard in the distance.

But after the video emerged, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said heavy fighting continued.

“The situation is critical,” she said.

“As of now, our defenders control certain industrial and infrastructure facilities in this area.”

Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Eastern Command, told The Associated Press that Prigozhin’s claim “is not true. Our units are fighting in Bakhmut.”

Battles have raged around Bakhmut for more than 200 days. The city has been largely reduced to rubble, but it has taken on an importance in the conflict far beyond its strategic value.