After Russia’s Wagner mercenary company owner Yevgeny Prigozhin’s announced the withdrawal of his troops from Bakhmut by May 10 if he is not supplied with more ammunition, Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Russia would do all it can to capture the Donetsk Oblast city before May 9.
May 9 is celebrated in Russia as Victory Day, with military parades to celebrate the victory in the Second World War of the Soviet Union over Nazi Germany — its ally at the beginning of the war.
Malyar said that to achieve this goal, Wagner’s forces are being shifted from other areas and replacing the current paratrooper assault units on the Bakhmut front.
Wagner troops have suffered huge losses in Bakhkmut, with U.S. intelligence reckoning up to 20,000 of them may have been lost in the fighting for the city over the last 10 months.
Earlier, on May 4, Prigozhin posted a gruesome video showing numerous bloodied corpses of Wagner troops, whom he said had been killed that day. He said that they were being killed because they lacked ammunition.
He then launched into an expletive-laden rant against Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Russian Chief of the General Staff Valeriy Gerasimov, blaming them for his mercenaries’ deaths.
Malyar said that the Ukrainian army would not allow the enemy to breach the front line.
She added that Ukrainian artillery fire had destroyed Wagner’s mercenaries’ ammunition depots.
The “Wagnerites” leader claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defense had stopped supplying shells a month ago, and his mercenaries are only receiving 10% of what they need.
He demanded that the ministry issue a combat order for the “exit from Bakhmut.”
The Kremlin acknowledged Prigozhin’s statement but declined to comment.
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