Russian paramilitary leader Evgeny Prigozhin on Friday threatened to withdraw front-line fighters from Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, due to a shortage of ammunition, and denounced the army chief in a chilling video.
Prigozhin’s Wagner group spearheaded a months-long brutal Russian offensive against Bakhmut, nearly capturing the city in the longest and bloodiest battle of the campaign.
Prigogine has made similar threats in the past, but the emotional language used in the video statement and the scathing personal criticism of the leader of the Russian campaign in Ukraine was unprecedented.
“On May 10, 2023, the positions at Bahmut must be handed over to Defense Ministry forces and Wagner’s forces must retreat and lick their wounds,” Prigozin said in a written statement to Telegram. .
“Withdraw Wagner troops from Bakhmut, because without ammunition they face senseless death.”
– “Die to get fat” –
Earlier, Prigozhin posted a video to the Telegram showing a row of what he said were Wagner fighters killed, blaming Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov for their deaths.
“Shoig! Gerasimov! Where’s my ammunition?” Prigozhin said in the video.
“They came here as volunteers. They’re dying so they can get fat in the wood-paneled office,” he said as he stood by the corpse.
“They are from Wagner. They died today. Their blood is still fresh,” he said, adding that the War Secretary was “going to hell.”
“We’re 70% out of ammunition,” he said in a rant, and several rants were blown away.
“You’re sitting in an expensive club (beeped)…you think you’re the master of life and have the right to decide their life,” he said, pointing to the corpse. .
Prigogine has a close relationship with President Vladimir Putin, and the two began their business and political careers in their native St. Petersburg after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
In a statement on Friday, Prigozhin said his fighters were mobilized shortly after the start of the campaign in Ukraine and helped Russian forces advance after a series of setbacks.
“We will lick our wounds, and when our country is in danger, we will defend it again. The Russian people can count on us,” he said.
– Second fire in bunker –
Russia’s class controversy erupted when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov repeated Russia’s accusations of US involvement in the alleged Ukrainian drone attack on the Kremlin.
Lavrov said the attack could not have happened without Washington’s awareness during a trip to the Indian state of Goa for a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) conference.
“We will respond with concrete actions,” he said.
Ukraine has denied responsibility, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying, “We did not attack Moscow or Putin.”
The US also rejected the accusations of involvement, accusing the Kremlin of “lying” about its role in the drone attacks.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned Moscow on Thursday “not to use this alleged attack as an excuse to continue the escalation of the war.”
Drone attacks and train derailments behind Russian lines have been on the rise in recent days with experts saying they could be part of Ukraine’s plans for an impending spring attack.
In the latest development, a fire broke out at an oil refinery in southern Russia on Friday — a day after officials confirmed a drone strike at the same facility.