Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin praised Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut in a Telegram video message on Saturday after earlier promising to withdraw his troops from the city.
In his message, Prigozhin said he was standing in front of the city of Donetsk that Russian and Ukrainian troops fought for for months, which he insisted “will be taken.” He added that Ukraine was bringing in up to 600 soldiers per day, which is “about the same number of people killed per day.”
“The enemy does not skimp on artillery ammunition,” he said in the message reported by the Russian state news agency, TASS. Prigozhin has repeatedly denounced the Russian Defense Ministry for failing to provide him and his paramilitary unit with the resources he desires.
“A sufficient number of various foreign-made armored vehicles and a large number of drones have appeared,” he added. “The enemy is well equipped, well trained, acts in a coordinated manner and resists with dignity, so we keep going, everything is burning, burning.” He also described on Saturday how there was incessant artillery fire “from morning until night.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s armed forces shared a video on social media on Saturday that they said showed the use of phosphorus weapons by Russian forces in Bakhmut in a move that drew condemnation.
In an earlier audio post on Telegram on Friday, Prigozhin said that “despite the strong famine from the shells, Wagner’s units advanced.” He added that “we still have some opportunities to move towards Bakhmut until the end of May 9,” which is Victory Day marking the Soviet role in the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
news week has emailed the Russian and Ukrainian defense ministries for comment.
Earlier this week, Prigozhin said he would withdraw his troops from Bakhmut due to a lack of ammunition, which has been a constant annoyance for the businessman who once had close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a video, Prigozhin said his troops are “sentenced to a senseless death” without the necessary military resources in a plea, which the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said showed “palpable desperation.” The battle for Bakhmut has resulted in heavy casualties and deaths for both sides, particularly among Wagner’s forces and conscripted convicts.
The US-based think tank also said the Russian Defense Ministry had “de-prioritized” the offensive in Bakhmut for the anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive, which is expected in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, one of Prigozhin’s allies, Russian politician and writer Zakhar Prilepin, was taken to hospital with injuries after what has been reported as an assassination attempt on Saturday. Prigozhin had praised Prilepin for his support before his car exploded in Nizhny Novgorod, in an incident that killed the politician’s driver.