Ukraine war: Wagner boss declares Bachmut completely taken

Ukraine war: Wagner boss declares Bachmut completely taken

The Battle of Bakhmut is considered the longest and bloodiest of the Russian war against Ukraine. Now the head of the private army Wagner, Prigozhin, claims to have conquered the basically destroyed city.

Legs apart in uniform and holding the Russian flag – that’s how the head of Wagner’s private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced the conquest of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. “We completely took over the whole city,” Prigozhin said in a video released on Saturday. There was initially no confirmation from the Ukrainian side or the official Russian side.

Instead, it was said in Moscow and Kiev that the fighting continued. It was not the first time that Prigoschi declared Bakhmut conquered. And once again he also criticized the Russian military leadership.

“We fought not only with the armed forces of Ukraine, but also with the Russian bureaucracy, which threw a spanner in the works,” Prigozhin said in the video. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valeri Gerasimov made the war “for their personal pleasure.” Their whims and the military bureaucracy meant “five times as many soldiers died as should have died,” said the 61-year-old.

Thanks to Putin

At the same time, he thanked President Vladimir Putin for giving the Wagner fighters the opportunity to fight for Russia. It was a “great honor,” stressed Prigozhin, who is considered a close confidant of Putin. The Wagner troupe helped the “disheveled Russian army to find itself again”. He now wants to leave Bachmut to the regular troops.

According to Prigozhin, the Wagner troops had been fighting in “Operation Meat Grinder” for 224 days since October 8 – now a recovery phase is imminent. But Wagner is ready to continue fighting for Russia.

With a view to the visit of the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj to the G7 summit of the leading democratic economic nations in Japan, Prigozhin announced that Kiev had fought “bravely and well”. Selenskyj should send greetings to US President Joe Biden from the Wagner army, the best in the world. On the other hand, he called on Moscow to hold accountable those who had protracted the battle for Bakhmut by withholding ammunition, material and personnel.

There are lists of supporters and those who prevent them, said Prigozhin. He had also recruited convicted criminals in Russian prisons to reinforce the battle. He said it would have taken 23 times more personnel and 27 times more ammunition to take the city of once more than 70,000 people faster. The battle is considered the heaviest in the war that has lasted 15 months. Prigozhin also recalled the many dead, without naming numbers.

Ukraine denies

The Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maljar contradicted in Kiev, saying that the “heavy fighting” in Bakhmut continued. She admitted: “The situation is critical.” However, the Ukrainian armed forces defended their positions and controlled individual industrial and infrastructure objects. Maljar previously said that the Russian military had moved several thousand soldiers to Bakhmut for reinforcements.

“The enemy can’t win with quality, so they try with quantity,” the deputy minister wrote on Facebook. “Russian troops continue to attack at heavy casualties, disproportionately exceeding our losses.” In the past few days, Ukraine had also reported gaining ground. Selenskyj had ordered that Bakhmut, which had been largely destroyed, not be abandoned.

The Ministry of Defense in Moscow also reported ongoing fighting in the western urban area of ​​Bakhmut, as well as airstrikes and artillery combat. However, heavy losses were being inflicted on the enemy and the conquest of the western part was ongoing, said ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. The Ukraine does not want to give up the city, which has been contested since late summer, in order to prevent the Russian troops from breaking through further inland.

Bakhmut is the main part of the line of defense between the cities of Siversk and Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, established after the Russian conquest of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk. Should the city fall, the route to the major cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk would open up for Russian troops. This would bring a full conquest of the Donetsk region planned by Russia closer.

Source: Stern

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