By Athena Papakosta

“On behalf of the fighters and the Wagner administration I declare that on May 10, 2023 we will be obliged to surrender the fighting positions we hold in Bahamut to forces of the Ministry of Defense and move our remaining forces to logistics camps to close our wounds.”

These were, among other things, the words of the outside brakeman Yevgeny Prigozhin last week he was packing… suitcases from Bakhmut mocking Russia’s Minister of National Defense, Sergei Shoigu and the country’s military leadership for depriving him, as he said, of ammunition and weapons from his battle to capture this leveled city that Moscow with the help of the Wagner mercenary Group has been trying to capture since last summer.

“Shoigu, Gerasimov! Where’s this g… ammo?” he gushed in another video as he stood in front of his piles of fighters asking his cameraman to zoom in on them.

Now the head and founder of the paramilitary Wagner Group appears to be changing his stance again, his initial deeply angry message being replaced by a cooler statement in which, among other things, he says: “We have been promised as much ammunition and weapons as we need to continue operations ».

In fact, in this new statement, Prigozhin himself emphasizes that the Russian Ministry of Defense “promised” him and General Sergei Surovykin, who was the commander of the Russian forces in Ukraine for months, whom he says “is the only man with stars of a general who knows how to fight”.

The Kremlin has not reacted to the news Prigozhin’s statements which are interpreted to mean that the founder of Wagner will finally decide to stay in Bakhmut and not give up his team’s positions to Kadyrov’s Chechens.

The fighting in Bakhmut has turned out to be the bloodiest of this war in Ukraine with the two sides in recent weeks presenting conflicting accounts of their progress.

At this point on the map the mercenary Group Wagner is leading the offensive operations of the Russian forces with Prigozhin himself knowing that if he succeeds in capturing this small town in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, he will become a major player within the Russian war machine despite the Group’s very difficult ties with Moscow.

For its part, if Russia did indeed promise weapons and ammunition to Prigozhin after his unprecedented on-camera outburst, it betrays its need and dependence in the region on the mercenaries of this paramilitary organization.

At the same time, however, for the Ukrainians, Prigozhin never intended to leave the scene. In more detail, the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, Hana Maliar, said that the Russians “are transporting Wagner fighters from the entire front line to Bakhmut”, because they want to occupy the city at any cost by May 9, on Victory Day as Russia celebrates the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

But the clock is ticking down on the Ukrainian counter-offensive with areas of Russian-held Zaporizhia being evacuated en masse with Kiev having received new tanks from the West, its soldiers trained and Russian morale high fallen since the Russian president not only does not have a single symbolic victory to present tomorrow during the military parade in the Russian capital but counts only drone attacks and explosives inside Russian territory even above the Kremlin…