The head of the Russian private military contractor Wagner claimed Thursday that his forces have started pulling out of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine and handing over control to the Russian military, days after he said Wagner troops had captured the ruined city.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a convicted criminal and Wagner’s millionaire owner with longtime links to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in a video published on Telegram that the handover would be completed by June 1. Russia's Defense Ministry didn't confirm this and it wasn't possible independently to verify whether Wagner’s pullout from the bombed-out city has begun after a nine-month battle that killed tens of thousands of people. Prigozhin said his troops would now rest in camps, repair equipment and await further orders.
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said Thursday that regular Russian troops had replaced Wagner units in the suburbs but that Wagner fighters remained inside the city. Ukrainian forces maintain a foothold in the southwestern outskirts, she said.
Prigozhin’s Bakhmut triumph delivered a badly needed victory for Putin, whose invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has lost momentum and now faces a Ukrainian counteroffensive using advanced weapons that Kyiv’s Western allies have provided.
According to top Ukrainian presidential advisor Mykhailo Podolyak, that counteroffensive is already underway. He said Thursday that it should not be anticipated as a “single event” starting “at a specific hour of a specific day.” Writing on Twitter, Podolyak said that “dozens of different actions to destroy Russian occupation forces” had “already been taking place yesterday, are taking place today and will continue tomorrow."
Prigozhin has long feuded with the Russian military leadership, dating back to Wagner’s creation in 2014. He has also built a reputation for inflammatory — and often unverifiable — headline-grabbing statements from which he later backtracks. During the 15-month war in Ukraine, he has repeatedly and publicly accused the Russian military leadership of incompetence, failure to properly provision his troops as they spearheaded the battle for Bakhmut, and failure to credit his troops for their successes and sacrifices.
Wagner's involvement in the capture of Bakhmut has added to Prigozhin’s standing, which he has used to set forth his personal views about the war's conduct.
“Prigozhin is … using the perception that Wagner is responsible for the capture of Bakhmut to advocate for a preposterous level of influence over the Russian war effort in Ukraine,” the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington think tank, said.
His frequent critical commentary about Russia's military performance is uncommon in Russia’s tightly controlled political system, in which only Putin can usually air such criticism.
Seth Jones, director of international security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Prigozhin appears to be pressuring the Russian Defense Ministry to take a more active role and responsibility in Bakhmut but he questioned whether regular troops are capable of taking over from Wagner.
“If you pull those forces out of Bakhmut, you lose your entire sort of first line of offensive and then defensive operations, because the Russians aren’t going to use — haven’t used -- their seasoned military forces" for major advances, he said. "You don’t want to waste well trained capable forces in areas where they’re likely to get killed. So removing them would almost certainly allow the Ukrainians to retake territory."
With Russian forces suffering high casualties and their inability to integrate their, forces, he added, they "just they look miserable.”
Nikolai Petrov, senior Russia and Eurasia research fellow at Chatham House, was skeptical about Prigozhin’s claim the Russian military will take over.
“Nobody knows if that will happen,” Petrov said, adding that Prigozhin is a “populist and he’s playing the cards of hatred" against ineffective Russian military commanders.
Earlier this week, Prigozhin again broke with the Kremlin line on Ukraine, saying its goal of demilitarizing the country had backfired, acknowledging Russian troops had killed civilians and agreeing with Western estimates that he lost more than 20,000 men in the battle for Bakhmut.
Meanwhile, Russia unleashed a barrage of Iranian-made Shahed 36 drones against Kyiv in its 12th nighttime air assault on the Ukrainian capital this month but the city’s air defenses shot them all down, Ukrainian authorities said Thursday.
The Kremlin’s forces also launched 30 airstrikes and 39 attacks from multiple rocket launchers, as well as artillery and mortar attacks across Ukraine, the Ukrainian military said.
At least one civilian was killed and 13 others were wounded in Ukraine on Wednesday and overnight, the Ukrainian presidential office said Thursday.
In other developments Thursday:
— Russia and Belarus signed a deal formalizing deployment of Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory. Control of the weapons will remain with Moscow. Putin had announced in March that his country planned to deploy tactical, comparatively short-range and small-yield nuclear weapons in Belarus.
— A U.K.-based technology firm says pro-Russia hackers faked the location data to form a giant letter “Z” — a symbol of Russia’s war in Ukraine — in the Black Sea. Geollect says location data for commercial ships has been remotely spoofed so vessels near Crimea appear to form a 65-mile (105-kilometer) long “Z” on open-source maritime tracking sites. Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. The false location data increased the risk of collisions, the firm warned.
—A total of 106 Ukrainian prisoners of war have been released in another major exchange with Russia, chief Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said. The eight officers and 98 soldiers released fought in the battle for Bakhmut. The bodies of two foreigners and a Ukrainian were also returned to Ukraine. Prigozhin posted a video of himself standing next to two wooden coffins, one draped with an American flag and another with a Turkish flag. Prigozhin said the bodies were being handed over to Ukrainian forces and provided the American's name but the State Department couldn't confirm it, pending an investigation and due to privacy concerns. Russian officials confirmed the swap, without providing any details on how many Russians were returned.
— The Russian Foreign Ministry announced that five Swedish diplomats are to be expelled from the country. A statement said the decision is a response to Stockholm’s “openly hostile step” to declare five employees of Russian foreign missions in Sweden “personae non grata” in April. Moscow additionally announced its decision to close its consulate in Goteborg in September, as well as its “withdrawal of consent” to the activities of the Swedish consulate in St. Petersburg. Russia and Western countries have often expelled each other's diplomats since the war began.© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
And Moscow will be handing it over to Ukraine afterwards.
Where next, (perhaps the middle east, somewhere in Africa, maybe in South America, will the warmongering Kremlin send their baby killing butchers, most likely to an area with natural resources Russia's ruling caste want to take for themselves in their attempts to further expand territory and control global resource markets.
The Battle of Bakhmut (Artemovsk) is over. The road to Sloviansk and Kramatorsk is now open.
Summer will see battles for these areas.
Ha ! thats been said before in other parts of Ukraine, only for the Ukrainian army to reclaim them.
I doubt it, but you never know. If Russia does indeed make it to this next defensive line, they will wish they hadn't.
It is no such thing. They can't even shoot a video in Bakhmut without gunfire in the background.
Yevgeny Prigozhin Is quoted as saying “Well, can’t hang around here all day. I’ve got murderers to recruit, women to rape, children to murder and African mineral resources to plunder. I really must be going now.”
A private military company took on a NATO supported and trained army and won a decisive victory.
That must hurt in the Pentagon.
Not as much as the country that allegedly had air superiority, modern weapons, and decades of artillery shells stockpiled.
Prigozhin's presentation on the full battle of Bakhmut had the following figures in English and Russian.
Ukrainian casualties 100,000
Ukrainian deaths 50,000
Russian casualties 20,000
Russian deaths -----
No figure was given for Russian deaths, probably because this is a state secret. The Ukraine does not report its dead. Take these figures with a huge pinch of salt. But the western press know that Prigozhin DID NOT state that 20,000 of his fighters died. They are deliberately misleading.
total disregard for the truth does you no good around here.
A private military company trained & supported by Russia, backed up by a superior number of artillery, took on a NATO supported and trained army and won a decisive victory, which took ten months & cost them 20,000 dead & 80,000 injured.
Even the Wagner boss said it hurt
Everything including Al Jazeera is reporting 20,000 dead from Prigozhin's interview. You might as well stop posting your inflated Ukrainian figures as Ukraine will fight to the last man to expel the terrorist.
yeah you would have to control something to hand it over to someone else.
Russians are capable of retreating under fire.
from Aljazeera ;
Some 20,000 troops from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group were killed in the months-long battle for control of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, its founder has said.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said he had recruited about 50,000 prisoners to fight with Wagner in Russia’s war in Ukraine and that about 20 percent of them had been killed.
A similar number of his contract soldiers had also perished in the battle for the city, he told Russian political strategist Konstantin Dolgov in a video interview posted on his Telegram channel on Wednesday.
as is anyone, super generic statement.
But are they being shot at and are they retreating?
I see no evidence of that. I just see a handover of something that is under control.
Or you could just lie about turning it over? Really weird to take Prigozhin's word at face value.
Two things. One, yes we know... it's a "world tour", if they can topple Ukraine they don't want to stop there. Two, it's almost the end of May. A scheduled restart on the 1st of June doesn't add up to one month... and no, they never finished their destruction at the beginning of May.
A third thing. Comparing them to actual musicians, that's just moronic.
Really weird to take Prigozhin's word at face value.
To wit, the word of an ex-con, and a Russian fascist to boot. What comes next after Bakhmut? The Russians don't appear to be in any position to take strategic advantage of their Pyrrhic victory to press further forward into Ukrainian-held territory. More blood will be spilled as spring offensives start. The Russians will soon get tired of winning and, let's hope, of their megalomaniac midget "Fuehrer", too)
Ego Sum Lux Mundi
The Marketing Director of the Wagner mercenary company gave this informative summary of its successful operation to take the city of Bakhmut from the occupying Ukro-NATO forces:
We fought in Bakhmut against superior forces, destroyed about 50,000 Ukrainian Armed Forces and wounded up to 70,000
PMC “Wagner” had 3.2 times fewer dead than the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and about 2 times fewer wounded.
The PMC in Artyomovsk had 50,000 people at its best, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine – 82,000, and the ratio for the assault should be 3 to 1 for the attackers.
During the operation, we took 50,000 prisoners, 20% of them died, another 20% were injured.
The goal of Artemovsk was not Artemovsk itself, but the Bakhmut Meat Grinder. And in Artemovsk, we destroyed everyone we were supposed to destroy, we completed the task.
From this, we can glean a few useful observations. First, the Russians aren’t even using their military to accomplish their goals. Except for the initial attempt on Kiev, it appears their regular Army hasn’t suffered any significant losses at all. To date, they’ve primarily utilized convicts, Chechens, and ex-Ukrainian militia, and that has sufficed to devastate the Ukro-NATO forces.
Second, the Ukro-NATO military has been severely degraded. There is no way an outnumbered attacker should be able to drive a first-class military from prepared defenses, let alone in an urban environment. Wagner had one-fifth the number of troops the military textbooks say it required to take the city. Since it is not credible to suggest that a mercenary company consisting of convicts is a first-class organization, this suggests that the UFA forces are operating at a level more or less comparable to the Arab armies of the 1960s. This is not surprising, as conscript armies tend to be low-performance and low-morale.
Third, the Russian focus is on the enemy forces, not on the terrain. This is consistent with what Marshal Zhukov records in his memoirs of the Russian civil war and World War II. Consider the way in which Zhukov didn’t hesitate to advocate the early abandonment of Kiev in order to preserve its defenders, whereas Zaluzhnyi, like Hitler, refused to countenance the retreat from even a small, strategically meaningless city in order to conserve tens of thousands of soldiers.
Fourth, the real war hasn’t even started yet. The battle for the Donbass is little more than the opening skirmish in a much larger war between Clown World and the sovereign nations.
Ego Sum Lux Mundi - Is the real war when Russia finally sweeps across Europe to Portugal like you predicted back in Feb 2022?
Sorry, I just rewatched Prigozhin's last posted video (25th at 5am) and he states the Musicians will complete the withdrawal by June 1st, with a one-month break.
The next concert is around early July.
And ringmaster Putin certainly has a lot of clowns performing illusions for his audience at home.
obviously you slept through a lot of this conflict, where Russia's elite paratroopers were wiped out in their initial attempt to take Kiev. And you may have missed the Russian army’s panicky withdrawal from Kherson & Kharkiv.
and you believe this because a habitual lying war criminal said so ?
that is why Russia's conscripts are performing so badly - those that haven’t escaped Russia or surrendered.
Ukraines armed forces are highly motivated - they are fighting for their freedom. What are the Russians fighting for ?
you’re living in the past - same as Putin
Ukraine military places more value on the lives of their soldiers than Russia does.
Bahaha ! What’s this last 15 months been - foreplay ?
Oh, Yevgeny Prigozhin - again words of encourgement, promises made which you can't keep?
Wagnerites got their arses kicked - now the next ones are getting ready for their body-bags.
In addition, 2 more Russian fighter jets grounded for good, Russian losses as for now 205.000!
Once upon a time, in a world known as Clown World, there existed a charismatic and enigmatic figure named Ringmaster Putin. With his cunning ways and captivating presence, he gathered a troupe of loyal followers, each donning brightly colored costumes and big red noses. They were clowns of all kinds, ready to spread chaos and disorder wherever they went.
Ringmaster Putin had a grand vision—to take over the world and turn it into a never-ending circus, where chaos reigned supreme. He believed that laughter and confusion were the ultimate weapons to control the masses. So, with a mischievous grin and a twinkle in his eyes, he set forth his plan.
The clowns began their journey, leaving behind a trail of perplexed onlookers. They disrupted traffic with their unicycle races, juggled chaos in crowded marketplaces, and unleashed anarchy with their squirting flower boutonnieres. Ringmaster Putin relished in the madness, convinced that his army of clowns would be unstoppable.
However, as time went on, the world started to see through the act. People grew tired of the chaos and yearned for stability. They saw the true colors beneath the painted faces, recognizing the deceit and manipulation behind the laughter. The world united in its resistance against Ringmaster Putin and his clownish regime.
Leaders from different nations came together, determined to prevent Clown World from becoming a reality. They devised strategies to counter the clowns’ antics, exposing their tricks and illusions for what they truly were. The world was no longer entertained by the spectacle; instead, it craved truth, justice, and order.
Ringmaster Putin, once the center of attention, found himself isolated. His clowns became a mere sideshow, losing the support they once enjoyed. The world stood strong against their antics, determined not to let the chaos prevail.
In a grand showdown, the leaders of the world confronted Ringmaster Putin. They unveiled the truth behind his grand plans, revealing the vulnerabilities and weaknesses that lay beneath his charismatic facade. The clowns, once blindly devoted, began to question their allegiance.
As the battle raged on, the clowns gradually abandoned their painted faces and red noses, realizing the harm they had caused. They rejected the chaos they had once embraced, seeking redemption for their past actions.
In the end, Ringmaster Putin’s dream of dominating the world with chaos and confusion crumbled. His clowns, once blindly loyal, turned against him, choosing instead to rebuild a world grounded in truth and stability.
From that day forward, Clown World began to heal. The laughter that once bred chaos transformed into joy and unity. People remembered the lessons learned during the reign of Ringmaster Putin and pledged to cherish honesty, fairness, and harmony.
And so, the tale of Ringmaster Putin serves as a reminder that even the most captivating illusions will eventually be exposed. The world, united in its pursuit of justice and order, prevailed over chaos, ensuring that the clowns’ destruction would ultimately lead to a brighter future for all.
Wagner is a private military company operating not only in Russian-held territories in Ukraine but in many other parts of the world. The company is owned by Yevgeny Prigozhin, who recruits personnel even from among criminals and felons. Privatization of a war machine, which ordinarily is a state’s sole prerogative, is strange and unusual.
If the story that Wagner lost more than 20,000 of its troops in the drawn-out battle for Bakhmut was true, the company would certainly be unable to survive. So is Prigozhin asking Putin, his close associate, for help?
The Wagner group is nothing more than a band of mercenaries. There is nothing military about them.
Well I'm not going to argue that Ukrainian soldiers aren't superior, but that isn't saying much in comparison to Russian conscripts.
So only 40% warcrimes this time?
The absolute state of arguing that losses have been much lower since that really big loss in the beginning.
Imagine losing to a country #40 in military expenditure before the war. And with "air superiority".
What is Russia even doing then? Imagine believing you can kill your way to victory against an entire population that wants to see you out.
A skirmish for 13 months? What is this mythical Russian army waiting for? An invitation? Why weren't they there to prevent their humiliating defeat at Kiev?
Exactly... They are all reporting this.... But just watch it yourself, he even has an English slide on his power point. He did not give a figure for deaths. Go watch the video.... see for yourself.
Not exactly. They started as a way for the Russians to send their military to the Donbas after 2014, to support the separatists. They consist of mainly ex Russian military, especially from special forces and premier units. Not unlike Blackwater etc. Also current serving members "dip in" when specialized needs are needed, then return to their Russia army units. The much publicized recruitment from prisons netted around 5,000 "volunteers" all of whom had to have previous military experience. They are a well organized, well funded and resourced military unit, far from a rag tag bunch of dare devils.
The Russian way to wage war? Totally destroy that which you want to conquer. Bakhmut no longer exists. There is only the place where it used to exist.
The Ukrainian way to wage war? Make the Russians pay dearly for every foot of land given up, until the Russians can no longer afford to wage war.
He’s embarrassed by it then. Must be worse than what you think.
not sure where you get your info from, but
Prigozhin himself stated he recruited 50,000 prison inmates, & lost 20% of them.
Most had no previous military experience.
He probably doesn't want potential recruits to learn the true survival/death rate.
But as long as he can recruit new people I don't think it matters much to him how many were killed.
Or maybe it matters because he won't need to pay them anymore.
And if many of those killed were indeed hardened convicts maybe he'll care even less