Saturday, May 18, 2024
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Home » Wagner chief warns of collapse of Russian front line if there is retreat from Bakhmut

Wagner chief warns of collapse of Russian front line if there is retreat from Bakhmut

by Riley Collins

The leader of Russia’s Wagner private army complained of a lack of ammunition being provided by Moscow, and warned the Russian front line could collapse if they retreat from Bakhmut.

BBC News reported that the Wagner chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, uploaded a video on Saturday saying that his troops were fearful they were being “set up” to be blamed if Russia lost its war with Ukraine. He said in the video that without his troops in Bakhmut, Russia’s front line would collapse.

“If we step back, we will go down in history as the people who took the main step to lose the war,” he said, per the BBC.

“If Wagner PMC [private military company] were to now retreat from Bakhmut, then the entire front — which PMC Wagner today is cementing — would crumble,” he added.

In a separate post published Sunday, he said the shortage of ammunition could be due to “ordinary bureaucracy or a betrayal.” He said most of the weapons committed last month have yet to be sent to his troops in Bakhmut and suggested the move could be deliberate.

Prigozhin has staked his reputation on the battle for Bakhmut, and has been highly critical of what he says is a lack of support from Russia’s defense ministry, while also publicly feuding with the generals in charge of the wider war effort.

Ukrainian officials signaled last week that their forces may retreat from Bakhmut, a city in the eastern Donetsk region; however, analysts have seen no signs of Ukrainian forces giving up the fight. The Institute for the Study of War wrote over the weekend that Ukraine’s soldiers in the city were not at immediate risk of being encircled by Russian forces.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in February that the conflict in Bakhmut was getting more difficult, and that Kyiv wouldn’t pay “any price” to defend the city.

Reuters also reported that Prigozhin’s representative was denied access to Russia’s military headquarters on Monday, raising tensions between the private army and Moscow.

“On March 5, I wrote a letter to the commander of the [special military operation] grouping about the urgent need to allocate ammunition. On March 6, at 8 a.m., my representative at the headquarters had his pass cancelled and was denied access,” Prigozhin said in a post, according to Reuters.


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