In a new video statement, the head of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, Evgeny Prigozhin, said that his units would withdraw from Bakhmut on 10 May 2023. He said that the Russian Ministry of Defense refuses to provide them with enough artillery shells and gives only 10% of the needed amount. He also accused Russian military leadership of wanting to appropriate territorial gainst in Bakhmut, thus artificially depriving the Wagner Group of shells. Therefore, Prigozhin said his ultimatum is that his units would withdraw from the frontline for recovery until they receive a normal supply.
Prigozhin also said that in the autumn of 2022, the Russian army shamefully ran away from the Ukrainian counteroffensive, while only thanks to Wagner Group, which secured the new 150-km long frontline, the Ukrainian offensive didn’t expand further. These statements are the harshest criticism of Russian leadership and internal disagreement within the Russian army so far. At the same time, it remains unclear how Russian leadership will allow Prigozhin to withdraw troops and, if so, whether it would be a calculated maneuver.
Wagner Group head Prigozhin announced the withdrawal of all his troops from Bakhmut on 10 May 2023, criticizing Russian leadership for the artificial lack of shells. pic.twitter.com/ELCLdBOQL6https://t.co/s7I2Cppkho
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) May 5, 2023
At the same time, the Ukrainian military command doesn’t belive in these statements. Their purpose, they say, is to draw attention.
In particular, a Ukrainian spokesman of the Eastern Group of Forces, Serhiy Cherevatyi, commented that “The ‘Wagners’ are running out of fighters, not shells. Prigozhin has been trying to make outrageous statements to draw attention.” According to Cherevatyi, Russians are still trying to occupy the east Ukrainian city of Bakhmut entirely by 9 May 2023.