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Wagner Chief Claims Russian Bakhmut Position At Danger Without Promised Ammunition

Story Highlights
  • The head of Ukraine's presidential office said that three people were killed by Russian mortar bombs in a village in the Kherson region.
  • Ukraine has asked its Western allies for F-16 jets, but the United States hasn't said whether it will send fighter planes or high-tech drones to Ukraine.

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary force said that Russia’s position around the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut was in danger if his troops didn’t get more ammunition. This is the latest sign of tension between the Kremlin and the private militia chief.

Ukrainian military officials and analysts also said that the leaders of Russia’s 155th Brigade, which was fighting near the town of Vuhledar, south of Bakhmut, were refusing to attack because they had lost a lot of men trying to take it.

On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian forces had hit a command centre of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment in the southeastern Zaporizhia region. The ministry didn’t say anything more about the attack. Reuters could not independently check the accounts from the battlefield.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is in charge of Wagner, said that Russia’s front lines near Bakhmut could fall apart if his troops did not get the ammunition that Moscow promised in February.

“For now, we’re trying to figure out why there’s no ammunition,” Prigozhin said on Sunday through his press service’s Telegram channel, referring to the lack of ammunition.

The mercenary leader often criticises Russia’s top generals and defence chiefs. Last month, he said that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others were committing “treason” by not giving his troops the weapons they needed.

In a nearly four-minute video posted on the Wagner Orchestra Telegram channel on Saturday, Prigozhin said that his troops were worried that the government might try to use them as scapegoats if Russia lost the war.

“The whole front will fall apart if Wagner pulls back from Bakhmut now,” Prigozhin said. “The situation won’t be good for all of the military groups that are trying to protect Russian interests.”

‘Defence is holding’

After calling up hundreds of thousands of reservists last year, a Russian victory in Bakhmut, which had about 70,000 people before the war, would be the first big prize in a costly winter offensive. Russia says it would help them reach one of their most important goals, which is to take over the industrial region of Donbas.

A commander of Ukrainian troops in Bakhmut, Volodymyr Nazarenko, said that there was no order to retreat and that “the defence is holding” even though things are bad.

In a video on Telegram, Nazarenko said, “The situation in Bakhmut and the area around it is very much like hell, and that’s how it is all along the eastern front.”

Sunday night, the Ukrainian military said that Russian forces were trying to move towards Bakhmut by shelling the city and the nearby towns of Ivanivske, Chasiv Yar, Kurdyumivka, and Orikhovo-Vasylivka.

In a video, a Ukrainian military analyst named Oleh Zhdanov said, “The situation in Bakhmut can be called critical.”

The Ukrainian military said that to the north, Russian troops moved towards the town of Bilohorivka, which is just inside the Luhansk region, and shelled several towns on the way to Kupiansk and Lyman.

Further south, it was said that Russian forces were getting ready for an offensive in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions by shelling dozens of towns and villages, including the city of Kherson, killing civilians.

The head of Ukraine’s presidential office said that three people were killed by Russian mortar bombs in a village in the Kherson region. They were a woman and two children.

‘Refusing to proceed’

Near Vuhledar, which is southwest of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk, Ukraine said that senior officers of Russia’s 155th Brigade were refusing to attack because they had recently lost a lot of men.

The Ukrainian military said in a statement, “According to what we know, the leaders of the brigade and senior officers are refusing to launch a new pointless attack as ordered by their incompetent commanders, which is to storm well-defended Ukrainian positions with little protection or preparation.”

Zhdanov, a military analyst, said that two Russian “Cossack” units called Steppe and Tiger were unhappy with their commanders and would not take part in any new offensive on the hilltop town. Reuters couldn’t check the reports right away.

On the weekend, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu made a rare trip to Ukraine to meet with his troops and give them medals.

A little over a year ago, Vladimir Putin sent troops into Ukraine as part of a “special military operation.”

Since then, tens of thousands of people have died, millions have fled, and whole cities have been destroyed. However, with the help of weapons from the West, Ukrainian forces have stopped Russian advances in the east and south.

Two US officials said on Saturday that two Ukrainian pilots are in Arizona to fly flight simulators and be evaluated by the US military.

Ukraine has asked its Western allies for F-16 jets, but the United States hasn’t said whether it will send fighter planes or high-tech drones to Ukraine.

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