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ISW: Prigozhin indicates possible delay of Russian relief operation in Bakhmut

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 29, 2023 7:30 AM 2 min read
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Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin announced that the Russian relief operation in Bakhmut may not be completed by the initial deadline of June 1 and take until June 5. On May 28, he explained that Wagner forces require a few additional days to transfer all equipment in good condition, thus necessitating a delay in their withdrawal from the city.

Prigozhin clarified that the intention of Wagner forces is to complete a full withdrawal from Bakhmut to rear field camps by June 5. The Washington Post reported on May 28 that Ukrainian personnel in the Bakhmut area have witnessed Wagner forces departing from Bakhmut city itself, with regular Russian personnel assuming control of Wagner's former positions in the city.

However, the Ukrainian personnel said that they cannot confirm the complete replacement of Wagner forces throughout Bakhmut city by regular Russian forces.

Meanwhile, Russian sources have shared footage on May 27 and 28, purportedly showing elements of the "Nevsky" volunteer battalion and the irregular 1st "Wolves" Sabotage and Reconnaissance Brigade operating on the flanks in the Bakhmut area. The "Wolves" brigade was previously assessed to be active in the Avdiivka area, suggesting a potential transfer of irregular forces and elements associated with the Russia's proxies in the occupied parts of Donetsk Oblast from Avdiivka to the Bakhmut area. This development may result in a decrease in the tempo of Russian offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk city front, as previously assessed by the Institute for the Study of War.

"The decreased tempo of Russian offensive operations in the Bakhmut area and the ongoing relief in place operation are likely providing Ukrainian forces in the area the initiative to launch a new round of operations around the city if they so choose," the ISW concluded.

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