Wagner chief announces sudden withdrawal from Bakhmut in furious video

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Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia’s Wagner PMC, has said Friday that his forces would leave the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut they have been trying to capture since last summer.

The man who is known as ‘Putin’s chef’ for his ties to the Russian leader and his past as a Kremlin caterer, made his announcement dressed in full army fatigues, with an assault rifle hanging from his shoulder.

His sudden outburst followed a furious tirade in which he blamed Moscow’s military leaders for the heavy losses suffered by his Wagner fighters.

Standing in a field surrounded by corpses, a furious Prigozhin recorded an expletive-ridden video in which he blamed Russian defence chiefs for inflicting heavy losses and failing to provide ammo to his men.

In an earlier statement, Prigozhin said his remaining troops would retreat from Bakhmut on May 10, ending their involvement in the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

‘I declare on behalf of the Wagner fighters, on behalf of the Wagner command, that on May 10, 2023, we are obliged to transfer positions in the settlement of Bakhmut to units of the defence ministry and withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds,’ the mercenary chief said.

‘I’m pulling Wagner units out of Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they’re doomed to perish senselessly.’

Ukraine chose last month to reinforce its defenses in Bakhmut rather than surrender the city, hoping to inflict crucial losses on Russian forces ahead of a counteroffensive.

Bakhmut, a city of 70,000 people before the start of the war, has taken on huge symbolic importance for both sides because of the sheer intensity and duration of the fighting there.

Putin had ordered his forces to take the city by any means necessary, and has made capturing it the focal point of Russia’s winter offensive.

Wagner has been spearheading Russia’s long and costly attempt to capture Bakhmut, and Prigozhin said three weeks ago that his men controlled more than 80% of the city.

But despite the odds the Ukrainian defenders have held out, and Prigozhin has become increasingly angry at what he describes as lack of support from the Russian defence establishment.

Earlier on Friday he appeared in a video and was shown yelling and swearing at Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov with whom he has a long-running feud.

‘We have a 70% shortage of ammunition. Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where is the ******* ammunition?’ he shouted into the camera.

‘You scum sit there in your expensive clubs. Your kids are all getting off on life, recording their little YouTube videos,’ Prigozhin says, referring to Shoigu’s son-in-law Alexey Stolyarov, a popular fitness blogger.

‘Because of the lack of ammunition, our losses are increasing exponentially every day’. He added: ‘My lads will not suffer useless and unjustified losses in Bakhmut without ammunition’.

Prigozhin said, adding that his fighters would withdraw to camps Wednesday to ‘lick our wounds.’

‘If, because of your petty jealousy, you do not want to give the Russian people the victory of taking Bakhmut, that’s your problem.’

Vladimir Pastukhov, a political analyst, said Prigozhin’s behaviour looked like an attempt to pin the blame for Russia’s setbacks and losses in Ukraine on Shoigu.

‘He and Shoigu are playing a zero-sum game in which there cannot be two winners,’ Pastukhov wrote on the Telegram messaging service.

‘Someone will have to answer for the mountain of corpses. And that moment is approaching.’

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Ola Alabi
Ola Moses is a certified writer, He writes technically and creatively. He is the CEO of WORDSWORTH, a house where writing is made easier for all. He is a content creator at EsB TV, since 2019. He is a young man that showcases professionalism in all that he does, he was announced as Child and Green Foundation Person of the Year 2018, one of his many lists of honours.

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