On Friday, Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that his forces would be withdrawing from Bakhmut on May 10 due to severe ammunition shortages that he blames on “jealousy” from Russian military leadership.
Evgeniy Prigozhin declares in a video that he will be ordering the withdrawal of Wagner mercenaries from Bakhmut due to an acute shortage of ammunition allegedly ordered by the Russian General Staff. He says Wagner will stay in the city until 9 May to avoid shame on this day. He… pic.twitter.com/zFooKfYXRP
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) May 5, 2023
While standing in front of a group of his fighters, Prigozhin explained that Russia asked for help from his forces on March 15, 2022, as invasion plans “did not go according to plan.” By March 19, Wagner forces from Africa arrived “fully equipped” and began operations against the Ukrainian city of Popasna, which sits just east of Bakhmut and was captured by May. He then asserted that his forces “held off an enemy onslaught” across a 130km frontline to “save the [Russian] army, which ran with shame from Izyum and Lyman,” which were captured by Ukrainian forces during their Fall counter offensive.
Prigozhin went on to say that his forces were used heavily to “give the army a breather,” which lead to Wagner fighters “sacrificing” their lives in the “Bakhmut meat grinder.” He went on to say that Wagner forces showed success in advancing inside the key city despite high casualties, but their success was met with jealousy from “near-military bureaucrats from the Ministry of Defense.” He said that this jealousy cause Russian leadership to put Wagner in an “artificial shell hunger” despite freely available stockpiles of ammunition.
He said that Wagner forces received only 30 percent of their ammunition needs, which Prigozhin says is what lead to such high casualties. Within the past month, he said Wagner has received “no more than 10 percent” of their ammunition needs.
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Prizohin films himself in front of a large number of corpses, and in an unusually aggressive manner puts forward demands to Russian military leadership to provide more ammunition. pic.twitter.com/ZjikU2EnZM
— Dmitri (@wartranslated) May 4, 2023
Prigozhin claimed that Wagner was set to announce complete victory by May 9, which is Russia’s Victory Day, but the ammunition shortages would prevent this. He then called bureaucrats within the Defense Ministry “cowards” and officially declared to Russian military leadership that his forces will be withdrawing from the city on May 10. Prigozhin said that his men “will not be taking senseless and unjustified casualties in Bakhmut without ammo.”
“We just need to take 2 and some more kilometers out of 45, he said, adding “But if due to your petty jealousy, you don’t want to gift victory of taking Bakhmut to the Russians, that is your problem.”
He went on to say that Russian military leadership “are afraid of taking responsibility”and has requested orders to withdraw. He added that the only reason why they are not leaving on May 9 is to make sure “the brilliance of Russian arms is not shamed.”