The chief of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin has admitted that Ukrainian forces attacked Russian positions around Bakhmut, mocking Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for his army’s failure.
“The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst-case scenario,” he said, signaling fresh misery for Putin’s troops.
“Those areas, which for months were taken with the blood and lives of our comrades-in-arms, every day, tens or hundreds of yards, are now being thrown almost without a fight by those (Russian army soldiers) who are supposed to hold our flanks. ‘
Prigozhin then addressed the long-suffering Shoigu directly.
“Considering your super long experience, can you please come to Bakhmut?” he asked sarcastically, mocking the Defense Secretary’s wartime background in engineering.
President Volodymyr Zelensky tried to manage expectations surrounding the pushback in Bakhmut by telling reporters that the long-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive had yet to begin in earnest, declaring, “We need a little more time.”
But Prigozhin replied that Zelensky was deceitful: “When Volodymyr Zelensky said that (the counter-offensive) had not yet begun, he was sparing with the truth.
“It’s going full steam ahead – Ukrainian units are attacking successfully.”
Ukraine’s deputy defense minister Hanna Maylar added later Friday: “The enemy has lost great manpower. Our forces advanced two kilometers (about a mile) near Bakhmut. We haven’t lost a single position in Bakhmut this week.’
Ukrainian official Anton Gerashchenko posted a video on social media that appeared to show Russian soldiers hastily retreating amid Ukrainian artillery fire
Pro-Russian military blogger Anatoliy Shariy shared an image of a Russian position abandoned and recaptured by Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut
The owner of the Wagner group was furious about the difficult situation in Bakhmut and sarcastically asked Sergei Shoigu to go there and evaluate the situation.
Moscow has since denied reports of Ukrainian counter-offensives in Bakhmut, saying the front line is under control.
“Statements circulated by individual Telegram channels about ‘defense breakthroughs’ that occurred in different areas along the line of military contact do not correspond to reality,” Russia’s defense ministry said in a Telegram message.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, meanwhile, told Russian news service TASS that the military operation in eastern Ukraine was “very difficult,” but “certain goals have been achieved.”
But a series of pro-Russian military bloggers have confirmed Prigozhin’s assessment of the battlefield.
Pro-Kremlin Ukrainian blogger Anatoly Shariy complained that Putin’s troops were retreating and abandoning their posts instead of fighting to hold their positions.
He stressed that units of the Russian army’s 9th motorized rifle regiment “escaped from the forest, left the fortified area and reopened the road to Bakhmut for the Ukrainian forces.”
At Bogdanovka, the 9th motorized rifle regiment “ran away, leaving behind a significant part of the front with an area of hundreds of meters,” he said.
“Why do we need a large-scale counter-offensive, if during local clashes the soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation run away?”
Semen Pegov, a military blogger reporting on the conflict for the War Gonzo Telegram channel, said: “At the moment our units (Ukrainians) are trying to push back – they have not yet managed to gain a foothold, the progress was relatively insignificant.
“But the alarm bells are ringing here… (Prigozhin) is right – we can assume that the counter-offensive has started.”
57th Ukrainian Brigade shoots down Grad missile systems during the Russian attack on Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Ukraine, May 9, 2023
Smoke erupts after a grenade explosion, amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released on May 7, 2023
This GoPro footage shows Ukrainian troops advancing through the devastated countryside near Bakhmut towards Russian positions
Pro-Kremlin military bloggers Anatoliy Shariy and Anastasia Kashevarova were among many who confirmed Prigozhin’s claim that Ukrainian forces had launched successful counterattacks in Bakhmut.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War released an update on the battlefield this morning that seemed to reflect the sentiments of Russian war bloggers.
Ukrainian forces continued to launch successful but localized counter-attacks around Bakhmut on 11 May, likely limiting Russian offensive efforts.
“The deployment of low-quality Russian troops on the flanks around Bakhmut suggests that the Russian Defense Ministry has largely abandoned its goal of encircling a significant number of Ukrainian troops there,” the Institute concluded.
Meanwhile, Russian war correspondent Anastasia Kashevarova said Putin’s forces suffered unnecessary losses because they could not communicate properly with the Wagner battalions, accusing them of petty bickering even on the front lines.
‘Wagner withdrew from that flank, because they had a breakthrough in another place and the 72nd Brigade did not know this. The 72nd had artillery there, but there were no assault troops. And the Ukrainians just went there.’
She posted, “I’ve untied such a tangle of bickering…everyone is offended by each other.
Wagner, they say, tried to contact the 72nd (Russian regular army) brigade, but they would not interact.
‘The 72nd is banned from the Department of Defense from working with (Wagner) – and Wagner is too proud.
“(It’s hard) to get through all this nagging.”