Furious Wagner boss to withdraw troops from key fighting ground

Ukraine: Prigozhin says Bakhmut is ‘surrounded’ by Wagner

The owner of Russia’s Wagner group has threatened to pull his troops out of the protracted battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut next week, accusing Russia’s military command of starving his forces of ammunition and causing them heavy losses. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy entrepreneur with longtime links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, claimed that Wagner had planned to capture Bakhmut by May 9. That day is a major Russian holiday marking the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

But, Prigozhin said, his force has not received enough artillery ammunition supplies from the Russian military since Monday.

Known for his bluster, Prigozhin has previously made unverifiable claims and made threats he has not carried out.

He said: ”I am withdrawing the units of PMC Wagner from Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they are doomed to senseless death.”

He warned his troops would retreat to camps on May 10 to “lick our wounds”.

Hours before releasing the statement, Prigozhin’s spokespeople published a video of him angrily demanding ammunition from Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov.

Prigozhin has had a long-running spat with the Russian military leadership, dating back to Wagner’s creation less than 10 years ago.

During the war in Ukraine, he has repeatedly chastised Russia’s top military officials, publicly accusing them of incompetence — behaviour that is highly unusual in Russia’s tightly controlled political system, in which only President Vladimir Putin can voice such criticism.

One general Prigozhin actively criticised was fired, but other top officials he lashed out at appear to have retained the Kremlin’s trust.

In January, Putin put Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of Russia’s General Staff, in direct charge of the Russian forces in Ukraine, a move that some observers also interpreted as an attempt to cut Prigozhin down to size.

In the video, Prigozhin stands in front of around 30 uniformed bodies lying on the ground. He says they are the bodies of Wagner fighters who died on Thursday alone.

Prigozhin speaks in a furious tone and uses numerous expletives in the video.

He commanded the cameraman to film the collected dead bodies of seemingly dozens of Wagner troops, before yelling: “We have a 70 percent ammo shortage! Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where the f*** is the ammo?”

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Referring to the dead soldiers, he then added: “F***! They are somebody’s f****** fathers, and somebody’s sons! And those scum who are not giving us munitions! B***! Will be in hell!

“Their organs f****** eaten! We are short on munitions! 70 percent! Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where are the f****** munitions!”

He accused Putin’s top men of “hanging out in expensive clubs” while claiming the death toll among his troops would have been five times lower had they been supplied with enough ammunition.

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