The mercenary forces of “Vladimir Putin’s Chef” are set to pull out of the Ukranian city of Bakhamut in an embarrassing blow to Russia.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the feared Wagner Group, said his troops would be leaving the viciously-contested city as soon as next week.
The oligarch’s move comes after weeks of complaints regarding a lack of ammunition for his fighters, with tensions thought to have been high between them and the conventional Russian army.
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Fighting has raged in Bakhmut since the summer with the eastern city becoming one of the bloodiest and most high-profile battles in the war.
Wagner forces, which have been operating as a private army for Vladimir Putin, had been at the tip of this attack but now is seemingly expected to pull out.
Announcing his decision Prigozhin said in a statement: “I declare on behalf of the Wagner fighters, on behalf of the Wagner command, that on May 10, 2023, we are obliged to transfer positions in the settlement of Bakhmut to units of the defence ministry and withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds”.
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“I’m pulling Wagner units out of Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition, they’re doomed to perish senselessly.”
Casualties in the battle are thought to number in the tens of thousands, maybe higher, with Ukrainian military estimates claiming as many as 45,000 Russians had been killed in the city.
The actual number is likely to be lower than this, with Western and US estimates saying between 6,000 and 20,000 Russians have died.
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