Reuters, 6 March 2019 – The founder of the Russian Wagner mercenary group warned that if his forces were forced to flee, the entire front will collapse as they tighten their hold on the Ukrainian village of Bakhmut.
Yevgeny Prigozhin stated in a video published over the weekend that “the entire front will collapse” if Wagner withdraws from Bakhmut at this time. “For any military groups defending Russian interests, the situation won’t be comfortable.”
Reuters was unable to independently confirm the exact time and location the video was shot. The video was published on a Telegram channel that has joined the Wagner group and has been disseminating Prigozhin news. Prigozhin’s typical press service outlet did not release the footage.
Prigozhin said on Friday that his troops had “nearly surrounded” Bakhmut, the scene of a week-long escalation in battle and an almost all-out assault by Russian soldiers.
But, he bemoaned on Sunday that the majority of the ammunition promised to his forces by Moscow in February had yet to be delivered.
“Right now we are attempting to figure out the reason: is it just regular bureaucracy or treason,” Prigozhin remarked on his regular press service Telegram channel.
The mercenary leader frequently lambasts Russia’s senior generals and defense ministers. Last month, he charged ammunition supplies to his militia with “treason” after they were withheld by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and others.
Prigozhin said his men were concerned Moscow could seek to use them as potential scapegoats in the event that Russia lost the war in a roughly four-minute video uploaded on the Wagner Orchestra Telegram channel on Saturday.
“If we withdraw, we will forever go down in history as the people who took the most important step in defeating the war,” Prigozhin said.
“That’s exactly the problem with the ammo starvation.”
Apparently speaking from a bunker, Prigozhin said in the video that his troops were wondering if they were being “prepared” for defeat by the country’s top forces, or perhaps even by someone “above.”