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Wagner Group founder will not withdraw Wagner forces from Bakhmut due to dependence on Russian Defence Ministry

Wednesday, 10 May 2023, 05:58
Wagner Group founder will not withdraw Wagner forces from Bakhmut due to dependence on Russian Defence Ministry
PRIGOZHIN. SCREENSHOT

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have concluded that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Private Military Company, does not have as much leverage in the Russian Ministry of Defence as he would like.

Source: ISW

Details: Experts have noted that Yevgeny Prigozhin used Victory Day as an opportunity to ridicule Putin and question his decisions.

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While discussing the lack of ammunition and Russia's future prospects in Ukraine, Prigozhin mentioned the figure of a "happy grandfather" [Putin is often called a "bunker grandfather" – ed.] who "thinks he is good".

In addition, Prigozhin has announced that Wagner's forces will not withdraw from Bakhmut by the previously announced deadline of 10 May, despite the fact that the Russian Ministry of Defence has not provided the Wagner Group with additional ammunition.

Prigozhin said on 9 May that the Wagner Group would continue to fight for Bakhmut and defend its demands over the next few days.

Experts believe that the fact that Prigozhin has not fulfilled his threat to withdraw his troops shows that he is aware of his dependence on the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Prigozhin has tried to blackmail the Russian Ministry of Defence into changing the priorities of the Bakhmut offensive so that he could claim victory in the city on his own, due to the alleged preparations of the Russian military before the planned Ukrainian counteroffensive.

ISW has suggested that Prigozhin criticised ammunition distribution officials for senselessly saving munitions, allowing Russian soldiers to die in combat, even though the Russian Ministry of Defence is likely retaining limited stocks of ammunition to repel a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

He has probably expected the Russian Ministry of Defence to fully comply with his demands at the risk of leaving its own targets for regular Russian troops, but he has probably realised that he could not deliver on his ultimatum at this time.

Prigozhin has also probably expected that Sergey Surovikin [Russian military commander, commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces – ed.] would be able to force the Russian Defence Ministry to meet Wagner Group's demands, but his inability to reach Surovikin indicates that Prigozhin does not have as much leverage in the Russian Defence Ministry as he imagined.

He continues to blame the heavy losses and slow progress in Bakhmut on other Russian non-regular military groups in order to portray Wagnerites as the only competent force operating in the area.

Experts have pointed out that Prigozhin has launched a campaign to undermine Russian private military companies linked to the state.

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