Massive split in Russian military forces as Wagner vows to quit Bakhmut on May 10

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KYIV ̵1; The war of words between Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian defense ministry escalated on Friday, with the paramilitary group’s financier filming himself furious in Moscow and threatening to leave the Bakhmut key battleground state.

in a statement Published by the press service of Prigozhin, Wagner commanders accused Russia’s Ministry of Defense of artificially creating shell shortages for their mercenaries and causing massive casualties. Wagner’s statement accuses the Kremlin of being jealous of his military’s successes, particularly after defense ministry units were forced to retreat from Kharkiv and Kherson during Ukraine’s September 2022 counteroffensive.

The statement claimed, “We were supposed to take Bakhmut by 9 May. And knowing that, military bureaucrats almost completely cut off our shale supply on 1 May.”

Wagner’s statement was released several hours after Prigozhin himself published an apparent video rant He filmed on May 4, in which he stands near the bodies of dozens of Wagenwrights and directly dresses Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.

“Those are the soldiers we lost today. His blood is still fresh,” Prigozhin raged. “And now listen to me, fuckers. He was someone’s son or father. You bastards who don’t give us gunpowder will burn in hell. We are short of shells… Shoigu, Gerasimov, where are our shells? Look at them, bitch.

He adds: “Those people came here as volunteers. They fight for you to continue to enjoy your lavish lifestyle in their redwood decorated cabinets.

Prigozhin’s video and Wagner’s statement present an extraordinary breakdown in relations between the Kremlin and its best-known paramilitary unit, whose forces are vital to Russia’s assault on Bakhmut, a strategic city. Some of the heaviest fighting in recent months,

The statement published by Wagner on Friday claimed that Russian Defense Ministry units were supposed to cover the paramilitary group’s flanks, but are struggling to do so. Commanders said there were insufficient resources to continue storming Ukrainian positions, and dozens of mercenaries were being killed every day as a result.

Earlier this week in the US estimated 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed and 80,000 others wounded in Ukraine since December.

Russia celebrates the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II every year on May 9, and President Vladimir Putin has used the holiday to boost his image. Wagner’s commanders stated that they would continue to attack Bakhmut until 10 May, because “they want to celebrate World War II Victory Day on 9 May – a holy holiday for Russia – with the blaze of the Russian weapon.”

But on May 10, Wagner’s army would retreat to the rear and pass its front-line position to Russia’s official army, Prigozhin said.

“I have to take back what is left of Wagner to lick our wounds. Because without enough weapons and ammo they are doomed to die for no reason,” Prigozhin said in a statement, before making the announcement public. Decided because the Kremlin ignored their previous letters and demands.

A Ukrainian medic runs through a ditch along the front line outside Bakhmut John Moore/Getty Images

Neither Shoigu nor Gerasimov has publicly responded to Prigozhin’s video or Wagner’s statement, nor have they previously commented on possible tensions with the paramilitary group’s founder.

In a meeting earlier this week, Shoigu claimed the Russian armed forces were receiving stockpiles of ammunition, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS.