According to Prigozhin, the Russian forces retreated 570 meters in the northern sector of the besieged Ukrainian city, leaving the Wagner operation unit fighting in the city completely defenseless against a Ukrainian attack.
I am asking the Russian Ministry of Defense – publicly, because they don’t read my letters – not to give up our flank defense lines!”
– said Prigozhin, who also addressed Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Wagner group besieges the inner areas of Bahmut, while the Russian regular forces are responsible for securing the southern and northern parts of the city – i.e. the conquered neighborhoods.
Yesterday, Prigozhin addressed a similar message to the Russian paratroopers, who, according to him, fled from the attack of the Ukrainians with their ears and tails tucked in. The Russian Defense Ministry yesterday acknowledged the fact of the withdrawal, but claimed that they had only taken up “better tactical positions” in the area of the city.
It is not yet clear what the exact consequences of the withdrawal of the Russian forces will be for the fighting around Bahmut. In recent days, it was observed that the Ukrainians were in the agglomeration of the city, while the Russian Wagner group was advancing in the interior areas. Russian regular forces are responsible for securing the outlying areas.
A timelapse of the changes in Bakhmut over the past 7 days. pic.twitter.com/1I82j0OiDl
— War (Mapper) May 18, 2023
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, and the Russian Ministry of Defense have long been at odds with each other: the Russian mercenary leader has already accused the Russian leadership of treason for not sending ammunition to the Wagner Group’s artillery for the battles around Bakhmut.
It is not known what the reason for the conflict is: according to Western analysts, Prigozhin has political ambitions, the aim of which could be to obtain a position of defense minister or a presidential position, but according to Russian opinions, the whole thing is just a show, the aim of which is to confuse the enemy.