The Russian military leadership has struggled to respond to Wagner Group boss Evgeny Prigozhin’s public insults and appealed to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to intervene, leaked U.S. intelligence documents show, the Washington Post reported on May 5.
Prigozhin’s rants suggest that the pleas have fallen on Putin’s “deaf ears,” according to the report.
The leaked documents allege that Putin ordered Prigozhin to resolve the issues with the Defense Ministry, “effectively siding with his generals over the Wagner chief,” according to the report.
On May 5, Prigozhin recorded an insult-laden address to Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, threatening to withdraw his troops on May 10 due to a lack of ammunition.
Prigozhin said on May 6 that Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov's forces would replace Wagner mercenaries in Bakhmut.
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.
The Battle of Bakhmut is the longest in Russia’s war, as it has been ongoing since last June. Russian troops have only made incremental gains in the area, experiencing heavy casualties.
Ukraine’s forces control the western blocks of the city.