May 20, 2024

 

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group said it will retreat from Bakhmut because of severe shortages in ammunition, according to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the group’s leader. He said his forces would withdraw on May 10, blaming Russia’s defense ministry for the retreat.

Wagner has played a crucial role for months in the fighting for Bakhmut, sustaining huge casualties. The announcement and the suggestion of bitter infighting within Russia’s military forces signals division and disorganization just as Russia is bracing for a major Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Prigozhin said he was taking the decision in retaliation against Russia’s military leadership, which he accused of deliberately starving his troops of ammunition because they are jealous of Wagner’s success.

Prigozhin and Russia’s defense ministry have been in a one-sided public feud for months. Prigozhin claims it’s now reached a breaking point, delivering a blistering attack on Russia’s senior military command in the video announcing the withdrawal. He accused them of being “cowards” and of denying Russians a victory in Bakhmut because of their “petty envy.”

Ukrainian military officials said they did not believe Wagner forces would retreat from Bakhmut, suggesting they believed his announcement was an attempt to excuse his failure to seize the city by May 9 as he pledged. A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command, Sergiy Cherevatyi, said Wagner was running out of fighters, not ammunition. (ABC News)

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