Wagner says Russia’s position in Bahmut is in jeopardy without promised ammunition By Reuters

© Reuters. Ukrainian forces fire his 2S5 Giatsint-S self-propelled howitzer at Russian forces outside the frontline town of Bakhmut during the Russian offensive against Ukraine, March 5, 2023, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. To do. REUTERS/Anna Kudriavtseva


Nick Starkoff

KIEV (Reuters) – Russia’s positions around the eastern Ukraine city of Bakhmut are at risk unless Russian forces get ammunition, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary unit warned.

Ukrainian military officials and analysts also said the leader of the Russian 155th Brigade, fighting near the town of Vkhredal, south of Bakhmut, had ordered the attack after suffering heavy losses trying to capture it. reported resistance.

As part of that, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Sunday that Russian forces had attacked the headquarters of the Ukrainian Azov regiment in southeastern Zaporizhia Oblast. The ministry did not elaborate on the attack.

Reuters was unable to independently verify Battlefield’s account.

Wagner’s Chief of Staff Evgeny Prigozhin said the Russian front line near Bakhmut could collapse if his troops did not receive the ammunition promised by Moscow in February.

“Right now we are trying to find out why. Is it just normal bureaucracy or betrayal,” Prigozhin said in his news service Telegram on Sunday, referring to the lack of ammunition. said on the channel.

The mercenary captain regularly criticizes the Russian defense minister and commander-in-chief. Last month, he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others of “treason” for withholding munitions supplies from his subordinates.

In a nearly four-minute video released on Saturday on the Wagner Orchestra’s Telegram channel, Prigozhin said his government wants to set them up as potential scapegoats if Russia loses the war. He said the military was concerned.

“If Wagner withdraws from Bahmut now, the whole front will collapse,” said Prigogine. “The situation will not be sweet for all military organizations defending Russian interests.”

“Defense is on hold”

Russia’s victory at Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, would give it its first major prize in a costly winter offensive after mustering hundreds of thousands of reserves last year. Russia says it will be a stepping stone to completing one of her most important Russian objectives: the occupation of the Donbass industrial zone.

Volodymyr Nazarenko, commander of Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut, said there was no order to withdraw and that “defenses are being maintained” in tough conditions.

In a video posted to Telegram, Nazarenko said: “The situation in and around Bahmut is very hellish, as is the entire Eastern Front.

The Ukrainian military said early on Monday that its troops had repelled 95 Russian attacks in the Bakhmut region the day before.

“The situation in Bakhmut can be described as critical,” Ukrainian military analyst Ole Zdanov said in a video commentary.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the deployment of troops to Ukraine in a “special military operation” just over a year ago.

Since then, tens of thousands of people have been killed, millions have fled, cities have been reduced to rubble, but Ukrainian forces, with the help of Western weapons, have held back Russian advances to the east and south. restricted.

According to Ukrainian forces, Russian troops advanced towards the town of Bilohorivka, just inside the Luhansk region north of Bakhmut, and shelled several settlements in the direction of Kupyansk and Raiman.

In the south, Ukrainian forces said Russian forces were preparing for an offensive in the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, shelling dozens of towns and villages, including the city of Kherson, causing civilian casualties.

The head of the Ukrainian president’s office said a woman and two children were killed by Russian mortar fire in a village in the Kherson region.

Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yuri Inat said 13 kamikaze drones were shot down Sunday night.

The governor of Russia’s Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, said one person was injured by falling debris on Monday after Russian forces shot down three missiles near the town of Novioskol.

Belgorod borders the Kharkiv region of Ukraine and has been under repeated attacks since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Ukraine rarely publicly claims responsibility for attacks inside Russia.

“Refuse to continue”

Near Vuhledar, southwest of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, Ukraine said a senior officer in Russia’s 155th Brigade, which Kiev said had recently suffered heavy losses, was refusing to follow orders to attack.

In a statement, the Ukrainian military said, “Brigade leaders and senior officers are refusing new senseless attacks demanded by their inexperienced commanders. attack without hesitation,” he said.

Military analyst Zhdanov said two Russian ‘Cossack’ units known as the Steppe and Tigers had expressed dissatisfaction with their commanders and refused to participate in the new offensive in the hilltop town. .

Reuters could not immediately confirm the report.

Russian Defense Minister Shoigu rarely visits his army in Ukraine over the weekend to present medals and meet with commanders. On Monday he visited the eastern city of Mariupol. Mariupol was occupied by Russian forces last year after months of siege.

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