Wagner group vows to fight on in Bakhmut after promises of more guns and ammunition
The chief of Russia’s mercenary Wagner Group said his men will continue to attack Ukrainian-held Bakhmut after they were promised more guns and ammunition.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Friday that his fighters, who have spearheaded a months-long assault on the city, would pull out after being starved of ammunition and suffering “useless and unjustified” losses as a result.
But in an audio message posted on his Telegram channel on Sunday, he said: “We have been promised as much ammunition and weapons as we need to continue further operations. We have been promised that everything needed to prevent the enemy from cutting us off (from supplies) will be deployed.”
A spokesman for Russia’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment after Prigozhin’s latest statement.
Russian officials have repeatedly sought to allay concerns their forces on the front line have not received adequate supplies.
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that the Russian army as a whole had “received the sufficient amount of ammunition” to effectively inflict damage on enemy forces.
A spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern command said Russian forces have “more than enough” ammunition and Prigozhin’s comments were an attempt to distract from the heavy losses Wagner has taken.
He said: “Four hundred eighty-nine artillery strikes over the past 24 hours in the area around Bakhmut, is that an ammunition hunger?”
The threat by the Wagner Group to pull out of Bakhmut highlights the pressure Russian forces are under as Ukraine makes its final preparations for a counteroffensive backed by thousands of Western-donated armoured vehicles and freshly trained troops.
The battle for Bakhmut has been among the most intense of the conflict, costing thousands of lives on both sides in months of grinding warfare.
Ukrainian troops have been pushed back in recent weeks but have clung on in the city to inflict as many Russian losses as possible ahead of Kyiv’s planned big push against the invading forces along the 1,000-km (620-mile) front line.