Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, said on Feb. 11 that it could take two years for Moscow to capture the entire Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, as reported by Reuters.
Russia occupied parts of the region back in 2014, saying that taking control of the region is now the key goal of the all-out war.
In an interview with Russian pro-war propagandist Semyon Pegov, Prigozhin said that capturing the eastern Ukrainian regions could take one and a half to two years.
He added, “if we have to get to the Dnipro River, then it will take about three years.”
Along with the Russian military, the Wagner Group has been taking part in the months-long fierce battle for Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast.
The mercenary group head said that Russia needs to capture Bakhmut, admitting that it is “too early to say that we are close” to a total blockade of the city.
Russian troops have recently captured settlements north and south of Bakhmut and are trying to cut off all supply lines leading to the embattled town.
Capturing Bakhmut would allow Russia to disrupt Ukraine’s supply lines in the area and open up the main road leading to the two key Ukrainian cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.