Wagner Boss: Russia Is Sending More Ammunition

Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin had threatened to pull his forces out of Ukraine's Bakhmut
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 5, 2023 6:13 AM CDT
Updated May 7, 2023 3:35 PM CDT
UPDATE May 7, 2023 3:35 PM CDT

The head of the Wagner Group says his tirade was successful. Yevgeny Prigozhin had threatened to withdraw his mercenary troops, who have been part of Russia's war against Ukraine, unless Kremlin officials send him more ammunition. On Sunday, he announced that Wagner will be able to "continue fighting" in Bakhmut, the BBC reports. "They promised to give us all the ammunition and armaments we need," he said, per Deutsche Welle. Prigozhin's statement said there's a new liaison in the regular miltary he'll be dealing with: Gen Sergei Surovikin, who previously led Russia's Ukraine forces. "This is the only man with the star of an army general who knows how to fight," he said.

May 5, 2023 6:13 AM CDT

Yevgeny Prigozhin is known for making impetuous remarks, sometimes even retracting them afterward and dismissing them as jokes. But the head of Russia's Wagner Group, a paramilitary force that's been heavily involved in the war in Ukraine, didn't seem to be kidding Friday in an emotional, expletive-filled video that was also quite graphic. In the clip shown by the Telegraph, Prigozhin rants as he points to what appear to be dozens of blurred-out corpses in back of him, indicating they're the bodies of his fighters who were felled in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. He then slams Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov for a significant dearth of ammo that's forced him to make a drastic decision.

"We have a 70% shortage!" he screams into the camera. "Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where the f--- is the ammunition?!" In reference to the bodies behind him, which he says are of men who died just on Thursday, Prighozin says, per the AP: "These are someone's fathers and someone's sons. The scum that doesn't give us ammunition will eat their guts in hell." In a separate, calmer statement released later Friday, Prigozhin announced that, due to the body count and lack of fighting supplies, he was pulling his forces out of Bakhmut, where they've been embedded since last summer, per Reuters.

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"On May 10 ... we are obliged to ... withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds," he noted in his statement, adding that regular Russian army troops would have to take his fighters' place. "Because of the lack of ammunition, our losses are increasing exponentially every day." The AP notes that the fight for Bakhmut has been the war's longest and possibly bloodiest one, though an exact death toll is unclear. Just a few weeks ago, Prigozhin had claimed his forces had control of 80% of the city, a strategic outpost that Moscow desperately wants to take complete hold of. Neither the Russian military nor Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had any comment on Prigozhin's passionate video, though Peskov said he'd seen it being referenced by the media. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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