Thursday, May 30, 2024

Live Update: Russia’s “Special Operation” in Ukraine; Day 437

Russia, wary of NATO’s eastward expansion, began a military campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 after the Western-leaning Kiev government turned a deaf ear to Moscow’s calls for its neighbor to maintain its neutrality. In the middle of the mayhem, Moscow and Kiev are trying to hammer out a peaceful solution to the conflict. Follow the latest about the Russia-Ukraine conflict here:

Wagner withdrawal from Bakhmut could be “turning point”: Ukrainian military spokesperson

Wagner’s decision to withdraw from Bakhmut on May 10 could be “a turning point” in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city, a Ukrainian military spokesperson has told CNN.

“If they don’t change their logic and don’t manage to replenish, I think this may be considered a turning point in the battle for Bakhmut. This [Wagner] is the key force that fought for Bakhmut. For nine months, they have had a monopoly there most of the time,” according to Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a Telegram post Friday that his fighters would withdraw from Bakhmut in five days’ time, having taken heavy casualties in the fight for the city. He laid the blame on Russia’s defense establishment for not providing the private military group with enough ammunition and called for the regular army to step in.

However, Cherevatyi stated that Wagner’s “incredible losses” were down to its units “acting foolishly, launching constant human attacks” and that Prigozhin wanted to leave because Wagner was close to being destroyed in the fight for the embattled city.

“If Wagner’s losses continue to be as high as they are now – 100 or more people a day – and they can’t find a way to replenish their personnel … Wagner will be destroyed near Bakhmut,” Cherevatyi said, adding that the “vast majority” of the 137 Russian soldiers killed in the Bakhmut area over the past 24 hours had been Wagner fighters.

“That’s why Prigozhin wants to leave, or will try to leave, because if this dynamic continues, they have a matter of weeks,” he continued.

Cherevatyi also claimed Prigozhin was “lying” about his fighters’ lack of ammunition, stressing, “There is no shell famine.”

“Over the last day alone, 520 rocket launcher attacks were made on our positions in the Bakhmut area, and there were six air strikes, so this is not true. I think he is looking for a reason to simply retreat from the battlefield, suffering huge losses, unable to perform any task, and unable to replenish his personnel,” he continued.

Wagner’s mercenaries have been spearheading Russia’s efforts to take Bakhmut. Cherevatyi noted he expects the number of attacks against Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut to decrease if Wagner leaves because regular Russian forces would not be able to “waste personnel” as Wagner did.

Wagner chief blames Russian defense leaders for “tens of thousands” of casualties in mercenary group

The head of the private military company Wagner accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and armed forces chief Gen. Valery Gerasimov of bearing responsibility for “tens of thousands” of killed and wounded fighters, continuing his criticism campaign against Russia’s military leadership.

“The dead and wounded — and that’s tens of thousands of men — lie on the conscience of those who did not give us ammunition,” Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a video statement released Friday on Telegram, later calling both officials by name.

“For tens of thousands of those killed and wounded, they will bear responsibility before their mothers and children, and I will make sure of that,” he added.

In the same video message, Prigozhin praised the former deputy defense minister, Mikhail Mizintsev, who he said has recently joined the Wagner Group as its deputy commander.

Earlier on Friday, Prigozhin announced that Wagner Group is leaving the besieged eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on May 10, citing a lack of ammunition supplies that Prigozhin blames on Russia’s military command.

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