The head of the Wagner Group said that if his pro-Russian mercenaries retreat to Bakhmut “the entire front will collapse.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, in a video in Bakhmut (Concord/via Reuters) (CONCORD PRESS SERVICE/)

The head of the Russian company of mercenaries Wagner, the businessman Yevgeny PrigozhinHe warned that if his troops withdraw from Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine, “the entire front will collapse.”

If the Wagner private military company withdraws from Bakhmut, the entire front will collapse.”, Prigozhin said in a video posted on YouTube, adding that the collapse may reach “as far as the borders of Russia and, perhaps, beyond”.

“The situation will not be good for all military formations that protect Russian interests,” he added.

In a nearly four-minute video posted Saturday on Wagner’s Telegram channel, Prigozhin said his troops were concerned the government would want to make potential scapegoats of them if Russia lost the war.

He stressed that the Wagners, on the one hand, “they attract the entire Ukrainian Army and do not allow it to concentrate on other sectors of the front”.

Ukrainian servicemen ride a military vehicle, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut (Reuters)
Ukrainian soldiers ride a military vehicle, in the midst of Russia’s attack on Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut (Reuters) (STRINGER /)

“And, on the other, we advance and the others (the military) are forced to follow us so as not to be portrayedsaid Prigozhin, considered close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Wagner boss indicated that his men still do not receive the promised ammunition by the Russian Defense Ministry.

“Regarding the ammunition: on the afternoon of February 22, the documents were signed, on February 23 the shipping orders were issued, but until today not much of the ammunition has been shipped,” he said in a comment. Posted last night on Telegram.

Prigozhin indicated that he is trying to find out the cause of this delay, if it is “simple bureaucracy or treason”.

The mercenary chief regularly criticizes Russian defense chiefs and high-ranking generals. Last month, he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others of “treason” for withholding ammunition supplies from his men.

The Wagners, in whose ranks thousands of inmates fight, They are the main assault force attacking Bakhmut, an important communications hub, linked by roads to Kramatorsk and Sloviansk, the largest cities in the Donetsk region controlled by Ukrainian forces.

The President of Ukraine, Volodímir Zelensky, has declared that his forces will defend Bakhmut “as long as it is reasonable”, so it is not ruled out that the Ukrainian troops leave the city, where some 4,500 of the 70,000 inhabitants that it had before the outbreak of the conflict remain. .

A Russian victory at Bakhmut, with a pre-war population of about 70,000, I would give him the first major prize in an expensive winter offensive, after calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year. Russia considers that it would be a springboard to complete the seizure of the Donbass industrial region, one of its most important objectives.

Volodimir Nazarenko, commander of the Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut, said there had been no withdrawal order and that “the defense is holding out” under dire conditions.

(With information from EFE and Reuters)

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