Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has admitted that Russian soldiers are “dying five to one” compared with Ukrainians because they are “not given shells” or proper artillery. The five-minute rant, likely delivered somewhere near the eastern frontline in Ukraine, was shared across Telegram channels sympathetic to the Wagner Group cause. While it was redolent of previous complaints by Prigozhin against the Russian Armed Forces generals, with whom he has been at odds for the majority of the invasion, it contained a uniquely dire prediction for the expected Ukrainian counter offensives.
In the audio message, Prigozhin said: “The Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) are fully ready to go and cut the flanks. No one is covering our flanks. No one is giving ammunition to us.
“The number of people in Wagner PMC is drying up. [We are faced with] the dead, the wounded, and those who left after the end of their contract.
“We are not given shells and we are doing everything possible with the minimal amount that we have today.
“We will last another two to three weeks until the last bullet remains in the rifle magazine. [The war generals] must bear responsibility for what is happening on the frontline.
“The Ukrainian [counter] offensive is inevitable. On May 2, the last rain should pass. Another week is needed for the wind to dry the soil. After this, the AFU will be ready to move.
“When the Ukrainians begin advancing, the [Russian] mobilised will ask: ‘Where is our ammunition? Where is our leadership? Where are our commanders?’
“Once again, a crime against the Russian Federation is taking place. Every shell [the war generals] did not give means a Russian fighter will die.
“Instead of one dying while assaulting a building, five are dying because there are no shells and we have nothing with which to destroy the enemy artillery.”
Referring to the Russian war cabinet as “scumbags”, he said they will have to “answer to the mothers of the deceased”.
He concluded: “What is happening is a crime against Russia and the Russian people. This should not go unnoticed. The criminals must be held accountable!”
Since the Wagner Group’s assault on Bakhmut, which began roughly 10 months ago, Prigozhin has continually proffered misinformation to the Russian milblogger community to help undermine support for Putin’s war generals.
It is believed he is using the purported successes of his mercenary outfit to assert his authority and power, which he could subsequently take advantage of during a bid for influence in the Kremlin and with Vladimir Putin, with whom he is friends. For this reason, Prigozhin’s remarks cannot be taken purely at face value.
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But the Ukrainian counteroffensive is expected within the coming weeks or months, with military experts anticipating that it could involve an advance towards the occupied city of Melitopol.
A successful manoeuvre in that direction would sever the Russian land bridge from the Crimean peninsula to the conflict regions in Donbas, eastern Ukraine, effectively isolating Putin’s soldiers from each other.
Much of the Wagner Group outfit is stationed in Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region of Donbas. Their efforts to encircle the city would become near impossible should the Ukrainians break through the Russian lines to the west of them.
Prigozhin’s remarks about the muddy conditions preventing an imminent counter assault are also shared by many Western analysts.
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