The head of Wagner mercenary group has sensationally declared a withdrawal from the embattled city of Bakhmut and slammed the Russian defence minister as ̵6;scum’ over his failure to provide sufficient ammunition to his frontline forces.
Yevgeny Prigozhin Putin‘s ‘chef’ for his close links to the dictator – raged against Sergei Shoigu and Russian army chief General Valery Gerasimov in a graphic video posted on Telegram yesterday.
The mercenary leader was filmed standing over the corpses of dozens of slain Wagner fighters – all of whom he claimed had been killed in bitter fighting earlier that day in fervent attempts to capture Bakhmut.
In an emotional foul-mouthed rant, he declared: ‘These are the Wagner PMC [Private Military Company] fighters who died today – the blood is still fresh… Film them all!’
Addressing Putin-appointees Shoigu and Gerasimov, who are in charge of military operations, he said: ‘Now listen to me, you ******* *****. These are someone’s ******* fathers and someone’s sons.
‘And those scum who don’t give us ammunition will eat their guts in hell. Mother*******.’
Prigozhin went one step further this morning, declaring he will withdraw all of his Wagner fighters from the frontlines in Bakhmut by May 10 in the face of ‘senseless’ losses.
‘My men will not take unnecessary and unjustifiable losses in Bakhmut without ammunition,’ he said in a video addressed to Shoigu and Gerasimov.
‘Therefore, as of May 10, 2023, we are withdrawing from the settlement of Bakhmut.
‘If, because of your petty envy, you don’t want to give victory to Russians in Bakhmut, then that is your problem!’
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner private mercenary army, records a video telling Russian army chiefs his troops will leave Bakhmut on May 10
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner private mercenary army, points to piles of dead mercenaries as he rages against the Russian defence minister
An emotional Prigozhin slammed Shoigu and Gerasimov for Wagner’s lack of ammo
General Valery Gerasimov, left, Russian Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu
Last year, the ranks of the mercenary group swelled as they recruited thousands of hardened criminals from Russian prisons and were well furnished with weapons, ammunition and equipment by Russia’s then-army chief General ‘Armageddon’ Sergei Surovikin – a close ally of Prigozhin.
But Surovikin was demoted in January in favour of Russia’s current army chief, Valery Gerasimov, who together with the long suffering defence minister Shoigu is wary of Prigozhin and sees his mercenary group’s success as damaging to the Russian army’s ailing reputation.
Wagner has since been banned from recruiting prisoners to help the war effort – and Prigozhin believes Gerasimov and Shoigu are responsible for stemming the flow of vital ammunition and equipment to Wagner’s front line forces.
‘We’re 70% short of ammunition,’ the Wagner chief declared in the grisly video.
‘Shoigu [and] Gerasimov: where the **** is the ammunition?
‘You’re sitting around, you scum, in expensive clubs. Your children are getting off on life, making videos on YouTube.
‘You think you’re the masters of this life – and that you have the right to dispose of their lives.
‘You think that if you’ve got warehouses full of shells, you’re entitled to them.’
Shoigu has previously insisted adequate ammunition supplies have been delivered to Wagner and other frontline troops – but Prigozhin’s outburst appears to confirm suspicions that the Russian defence ministry are seeking to undercut the mercenary group.
Prigozhin pointed to the bodies of his fallen mercenaries as he hit out at the Russian defence minister and army general
The bodies of dead Wagnerites are pictured lying in a field after another failed assault on Ukrainian positions
Vladimir Putin (L) is seen with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin
Addressing Putin-appointees Shoigu and Gerasimov, who are in charge of military operations, Prigozhin growled: ‘Now listen to me, you ******* *****. These are someone’s ******* fathers and someone’s sons!’
The Wagner boss told the defence minister: ‘It’s a basic calculation – if you give us the [correct] ammunition, five times fewer will die.
‘They came here as volunteers and are dying for you to live in your redwood offices.
‘Keep that in mind.’
In theory both Prigozhin and Shoigu are on the same side amid the conflict in Ukraine, and are among autocrat Putin’s most loyal henchmen.
But Prigozhin has declared his own war on Shoigu and his right hand man Gerasimov.
Putin meanwhile remains silent on the obvious rift that threatens to tear apart his armed forces, and has appeared weak in his failure to address the issue.
Prigozhin’s extreme rants against the army’s high commander – of which this is the strongest – should lead him to be arrested under Putin’s draconian laws preventing criticism of the army.
But Wagner has proven effective on the battlefield – more so than many regular Russian army units – and Prigozhin seems to have been given carte blanche to operate freely without fear of reprimand.
Wagner – composed of mercenaries, volunteers and convicts – has suffered tens of thousands of losses in the war so far.
Prigozhin blames the scale of the deaths on the army’s refusal to release proper supplies of ammunition and weaponry – though many of his units are also poorly trained, owing to their recent recruitment from the Russian penal system.