TO Bakhmutthe city in eastern Ukraine which has been the fulcrum of the war for months, the situation is changing and is in danger of capsizing. Russia, and Wagner’s mercenaries in particular, seem to be in trouble according to the news of the last few hours. Kiev forces gain ground and recapture positions. Ukraine claims to have retaken an area 3 kilometers wide and 2.6 kilometers deep in an action that would have inflicted heavy losses on the enemy.
On the other side of the front, an alarming picture is being painted. The head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says his mercenaries risk ending up surrounded in Bakhmut. “Due to personnel reductions, Wagner was forced to surrender flanks to the military. There is a risk that Wagner will be encircled at Bakhmut due to flank failure…. Without ammunition, the ‘meat grinder’ will work in the opposite direction: the Ukrainian forces will destroy the Wagner”, writes Prigozhin, with yet another extremely critical message towards the military leaders in Moscow.
In an audio broadcast on Telegram, Prigozhin says the defense ministry – which has promised to guarantee all combat units the resources they need – has held lengthy meetings on the issue of supplies of shells. Breakthroughs, however, are not seen: “We are not receiving enough ammunition, we are only receiving 10%”.
The head of Wagner reiterates that Bakhmut has no strategic value and that the Wagnerites and the army have been busy on this front to decimate the Ukrainian soldiers while Russia carried out its military mobilization. Despite that, he adds, Ukrainian forces still managed to rally forces for the counteroffensive.
Prigozhin’s social outbursts do not seem to bring concrete results for Wagner but they are beginning “seriously to worry the Russian leadership”, which is losing patience with him, as the independent site Meduza writes, citing two sources close to the Kremlin. In particular, his statements about the “happy grandfather who says he is doing well” were considered “even more negatively”.
“He may say later that he was talking about Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu… , but we know what conclusions people will draw,” notes one source, while the other thinks his grandfather was Russian President Vladimir Putin. Many sources told Meduza they believe Prigozhin crossed “a red line”while some say the Kremlin considers him a “serious threat”.
Prigozhin allegedly promised Putin he could capture Bakhmut and his behavior is due to the failure of this goal. But in the meantime, the state press agencies, Meduza sources report, have already received the warning that, if it continues to attack the defense ministry, Prigozhin will have to be described as “a traitor” to Russia. And it is said that the authorities are not limited to this. “As long as Wagner is (at the front), there is little she can threaten Prigozhin, she has the ability to speak directly with the president. But if she continues, the official security forces will surely stop him,” sources close to the Kremlin.