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Prigozhin says Wagner forces would be deemed ‘traitors’ if they withdrew from Bakhmut

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 9, 2023 4:55 PM 2 min read
This audio is created with AI assistance

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian private military company Wagner Group, said that he and his mercenaries would be deemed “traitors” if they were to withdraw from Bakhmut, where they have been fighting for several months.

“A combat order came yesterday which clearly stated that if we leave our positions it will be regarded as treason against the motherland,” Prigozhin's press service said. “That was the message to us.”

“(But) there is no ammunition, then we will leave our positions and be the ones asking who is really betraying the motherland. Apparently, the one (betraying Russia) is the person who signed it (the order to supply too little ammunition),” the statement continued.

On May 5, Prigozhin threatened to withdraw his mercenaries from Bakhmut by May 10 due to a lack of ammunition. Two days later, he claimed that Russia’s Defense Ministry had promised to provide his forces with “as much ammunition and weapons as needed” to continue the offensive on the city.

He later backtracked and made the same threats to withdraw unless he got more ammunition, saying his mercenaries would remain in Bakhmut awaiting their ammunition “for a few more days.”

The tensions between Wagner and the Russian Defense Ministry have intensified since January. Prigozhin continues to accuse the Kremlin of deliberately depriving his troops of ammunition and equipment.

The threat to withdraw the mercenaries from Bakhmut is a "last-ditch effort to cling to a prominent role in the invasion," the Washington Post reported.

Bakhmut has been the epicenter of fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces for the past nine months. Wagner mercenaries have served as the primary shock troops in Russia's attempts to expand its control over Donetsk Oblast. However, in the past nine months, they have only made incremental gains, with Ukraine still holding parts of the city.

Ukraine war latest: Prigozhin claims Wagner promised enough ammunition for Bakhmut assault
Key developments on May 7: * Wagner chief claims army promised enough ammunition to keep fighting in Bakhmut after threats * Commander: Russia intensifying attacks in Bakhmut with heavy weaponry * Ukrainian military: Russia moving civilians out of occupied Enerhodar Russia’s Wagner Group claime…
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