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Frontline report: Suspicions surround Russian defense – Wagner Group reconciliation as Ukrainian forces make progress

Map: Screenshot from the video.
Frontline report: Suspicions surround Russian defense – Wagner Group reconciliation as Ukrainian forces make progress
The rapid and peaceful reconciliation between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Wagner Group arouses suspicion and speculation about troop redeployment while Ukrainian forces make significant advancements on the battlefield.

Day 487: Jun 25

The unexpectedly rapid and peaceful reconciliation of the conflict between the Russian Ministry of Defense and the private military company, the Wagner Group, especially as there is no confirmation that Prigozhin’s demands were met, left many people very suspicious.

Some analysts started building theories as to how such a large-scale act could be used to achieve strategic objectives and concluded that this would be a great opportunity to redeploy forces to the Kharkiv region and take the city into a pocket, as the returning from Moscow Wagner forces were very close to the Belgorod region. It is reasonable to some extent to consider such a possibility because both sides are monitoring each other’s movement of troops very tightly, and the only way to show up somewhere unexpectedly is by tricking the other party into thinking that they don’t need to care about it.

However, firstly, it’s not like all of the Wagnerites were heading north – most troops were occupying Rostov and military objects nearby. So, the Wagner forces got dispersed. Secondly, there is not much of Wagners left anyways. According to Prigozhin, he had 85 thousand troops to take Bakhmut, and it took him more than eight months and mindboggling losses to take it. The Kharkiv front is ten times bigger, Kharkiv itself is ten times bigger, and Ukrainians have tens of thousands of soldiers in the region. So, even if all Wagner units suddenly redeployed here, the prospect of a quick victory would be virtually non-existent. Besides, Russian forces had already tried to take Kharkiv with more troops and under much better conditions, ending in a disaster. Lastly, the Wagner forces were initially in Luhansk, so making a several-day detour towards Moscow was less productive.

And this is where other analysts concluded that, in reality, Wagner forces are redeploying to Belarus to attack Kyiv or Lviv. On the surface, this also ties in nicely with the fact that the President of Belarus, Lukashenko, got involved and eventually offered shelter to Prigozhin. However, all previous points remain relevant counterarguments here as well: dispersing troops by occupying Rostov would be counterproductive, the front line is 30 times bigger, Ukrainians have tens of thousands of soldiers on guard, Russians already tried anyways, and here there are also dense forests, which prove to be an extremely hard barrier. On top of that, during the mutiny, Russian forces lost 7 aircraft and 15 pilots. Half of them are extraordinarily valuable. And this is not taking into account the blown-up Wagner convoys and violent engagements with the regular Russian forces that were caught on camera and shown in my previous video.

Nonetheless, one thing the Wagner mutiny actually achieved was completely cutting off supplies of the eastern Russian Group of forces for at least two days and confusing the soldiers on the ground, of which Ukrainians successfully took advantage. Ukrainian fighters from the Bakhmut region reported that when Prigozhin posted a video and said that the regular Russian forces bombed Wagner camps and the Wagner forces were marching on Moscow, the Russian radio exchanges became completely wild, and eventually, it caused a series of violent confrontations between the regular Russian formations and a few Wagner units that were still in Bakhmut to help.

First of all, Ukrainian fighters from the 24th Assault Brigade reported that Ukrainians finally breached the Russian defense in the tree line along the road and started storming the last remaining fortification on their Way to Klishchiivka, namely, the infamous trench network on the hill. Secondly, after clearing the tree line, Ukrainians could attack Russian positions in the forest from 2 sides, and by the end of the second day, the Ukrainian 5th Assault Brigade reportedly cleared up to 40% of the forest.

However, the biggest news by far is that Ukrainian crossed the Dnipro River and established a bridgehead on the eastern bank near the Antonivskyi Bridge. Geolocated footage confirms that Ukrainian boats have deployed Ukrainian forces to this region. Russian forces tried to chase Ukrainians away with direct assault, however, they faced tough resistance. Ukrainians posted footage of Ukrainian helicopters targeting Russian assault units. Eventually, Russian sources reported that the units on the ground got almost encircled, which is why they decided to retreat.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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