Bakhmut remains in Ukrainian hands. mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin now complains that Putin’s military has so far prevented a conquest.
A bitter battle has been raging for months in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast. Although the siege ring of the Russian army and the “Wagner” mercenary troop is getting tighter and tighter – several suburbs have already been conquered – Bakhmut still proves to be impregnable.
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Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozchin (61) has already found someone to blame for this failure. Not with your fighters, of course, but with the regular Russian army. “I think we would have taken Bachmut if it weren’t for this monstrous military bureaucracy and if there weren’t obstacles thrown in our way every day,” thundered the mercenary chief in a video posted on Telegram. Therefore, an achievement can succeed as early as “March or April”.
He fired again at the Kremlin, undermining the army leadership of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Ukraine campaign chief Valeri Gerasimov (both 67). Leader Wagner is meticulous about not damaging the reputation of his patron Vladimir Putin (70).
In his message, Prigozhin also complained of “bloodshed” as the flow of volunteers recruited from prisons seems to be decreasing. That form of recruitment was officially discontinued last week because fewer prisoners wanted to apply. Although they were granted amnesty for several months of service, word has probably spread that few survived.
Volunteers are “burned”
The US government expected that around 40,000 former prisoners would be sent to the front by Wagner by the end of 2022. “Only about 10% survive,” said military historian Chris Owen, referring to information from Russian channels of the Telegram. Civil rights activists said that only about a fifth of the ex-convicts were still alive.
Read more: Wagner’s Army sends prisoners to their death in cold blood
Cold-blooded calculation is behind the high losses among volunteers. Prigozhin’s parallel army burned these relatively untrained units when they attacked the Ukrainian defenses. They are the first to be sent, they come under fire and only when the Ukrainian positions are discovered and a real advance looks promising do the trained and well equipped “real” mercenaries follow. This minimizes casualties among experienced fighters, but the volunteers pay in blood.
E: For conscripted prisoners there is no withdrawal from battle. Anyone who turns around will be shot by the mercenaries stationed behind them.
Read more: Putin’s Wagner mercenaries recruit volunteers in the Balkans
The number of fighters in Prigozhin’s hidden army is decreasing as quickly as it has increased. The mercenary chief also knows this: “At some point the number of units will drop and, consequently, the volume of tasks we want to perform,” he warns in the Kremlin leadership. For many months, Wagner’s mercenary front was the only one where the Russian side was still on the offensive.
Added “Troll Factory” management.
The head of the mercenary group recently admitted for the first time that a notorious “troll factory” had been set up. He “created and headed the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg for a long time,” Prigozhin said on Tuesday. The agency’s task was to protect Russia from “aggressive propaganda of the West’s anti-Russian theses”.
Trolls are Internet users who deliberately disrupt online discussions and poison the atmosphere in chat rooms. The Internet Research Agency is accused of online disinformation campaigns and interference in the 2016 US presidential election.
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