The leader of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force has warned that if his troops are forced to retreat from the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the entire front will collapse due to a lack of ammunition.
This front will collapse if Wagner pulls back from Bakhmut now,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video that went viral over the weekend. For all military formations defending Russian interests, the situation will not be ideal.
Reuters was unable to confirm when or where the video was shot independently. The video appeared on a Telegram channel that has been spreading Prigozhin news and has linked itself to the Wagner Group. No official Prigozhin press outlet shared the video.
Fri., Prigozhin declared that his troops had “practically surrounded Bakhmut,” a town where fighting has been fierce for the past week due to Russian attacks coming from nearly every direction.
Sunday, he voiced his displeasure that Moscow had yet to deliver the majority of the ammunition promised to his forces back in February.
“For the time being, we are trying to figure out the reason: is it just ordinary bureaucracy or a betrayal,” Prigozhin said on his regular press service Telegram channel.
The mercenary leader is highly critical of Russia’s top generals and defense officials. Last month, he claimed “treason” on the part of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others for failing to provide ammunition to his militia.
Prigozhin expressed his concern for the safety of his troops in a nearly four-minute video posted on the Wagner Orchestra Telegram channel on Saturday.
Prigozhin warned that a retreat would cement the Soviets’ place in history as the war’s primary losers.
That’s the crux of the issue with ammunition shortages, right there.
Prigozhin, who appears to be speaking in the video from a bunker, says that his troops will be worried that they are being “set up for defeat” by the country’s top brass or perhaps even by someone “higher.”