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Wagner Group founder: Flanks of Russian offensive on Bakhmut 'handed over' to defense ministry

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 11, 2023 6:52 PM 2 min read
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Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video posted on April 11 that his mercenaries had "handed over" the left and right flanks near Bakhmut to the Russian Defense Ministry, namely airborne forces.

"As far as I know they have everything they need to organize their defense and counterattacks, if necessary," Prigozhin said.

The Kremlin-controlled mercenary group has been assisting Russia’s military in trying to capture Ukraine’s eastern city of Bakhmut for months as Moscow tries to consolidate its grip over the entirety of Donetsk Oblast.

On April 6, Prigozhin admitted that Ukrainian forces are not retreating from Bakhmut and said that a Russian offensive was "out of question" at the moment.

Russian forces are faced with three issues, namely a lack of "properly organized command," weak flanks, and not enough ammunition, Prigozhin added.

This contradicted his claim on April 2 that Wagner forces had captured the city administration building in Bakhmut, raising the Russian flag there.

The head of Russia's state-backed private mercenary group had also claimed that Bakhmut was "de jure taken."

Disputes between Prigozhin and Russian officials have also been ongoing for what the former perceives as a lack of proper artillery support for Wagner troops in Ukraine and Africa.

On April 7, the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) responded to Prigozhin's criticisms of their problem-solving abilities and the effectiveness of their United Nations Security Council agenda.

The MFA assured Prigozhin of their cooperation with Russian businesses abroad and commitment to issues in Africa, marking the first formal response by a Russian government institution to Prigozhin's public criticism.

The unprecedented response was likely “a continuation of the Kremlin’s efforts to discredit and undermine Prigozhin,” the Institute for the Study of War wrote in its April 10 update.

Russia’s key attack force, Wagner Group, embroiled in conflict with regular army
The battle for Bakhmut has revealed a decade-long covert conflict in Russia’s Armed Forces. On one side, there is the regular Russian military. On the other side, Wagner Group, Russia’s most high-profile mercenary outfit. Wagner was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a confidante of Russian President V…
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