The head of Wagner’s mercenaries admits that Russia is facing resistance from Bakhmut | War news of Russia and Ukraine

Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted that Russian troops are fighting a fierce battle to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, said that Russian forces needed to capture the strategic Ukrainian city of Bakhmut to continue their war campaign, but that they faced fierce resistance from Ukraine.

In a rare interview published Friday with a Russian military correspondent, Prigozhin said Russia had to set clear goals in its nearly year-old war against Ukraine, namely to firmly establish its presence in eastern Ukraine or push forward to seize more of the country. The complete capture of Bakhmut was key to those plans, he said.

“Bakhmut is needed so that our troops can operate comfortably,” Prigozhin said.

“Why is it called a meat grinder? Because the Ukrainian army is sending more and more units.”

Wagner’s mercenaries, many of whom were recruited from prisons in Russia, have played a major role in the war in Ukraine, particularly last month when they captured the town of Soledar, near Bakhmut – a town that has withstood months of fighting and bombing and is known to both . sides as a “meat grinder”.

“It’s probably too early to say we’re close,” the Wagner boss said of taking Bakhmut.

“There are many roads to the outside and fewer roads to the inside. Ukrainian troops are well trained… and like any big city, it is impossible to take it directly. We are doing very well,” he added.

“First, we have to take Artyomovsk quietly, and then we can say loud and clear that we have taken it,” he added, referring to the Soviet-era name Bakhmut used by Moscow.

The UK Ministry of Defense said Wagner’s forces appeared to have advanced 2 to 3 km (1 to 2 miles) about north of Bakhmut since Tuesday – a rapid advance in a battle where the front lines have barely moved for months. Wagner fighters were said to now be threatening the main western access road to Bakhmut, although a Ukrainian military analyst said supplies were still passing through.

The UK ministry also said Russian forces were advancing near Vuhledar, a Ukrainian-held bastion that was the backbone between the southern and eastern fronts. But it added that the limited Russian gains there likely came at a high cost, including at least 30 armored vehicles abandoned in one failed attack.

Prigozhin also said that the fighting to capture Soledar – undertaken after the failure to capture Bakhmut – was comparable to the six months of battles it took the Soviet Army to secure Stalingrad during World War II. Prigozhin sharply criticized the failures of the Russian regular army in its offensive into Ukraine and engaged in a public spat with Kremlin commanders when he claimed that the battle for Soledar was fought solely by his Wagner forces after the regular army had won.

In comments apparently aimed at Russia’s defense establishment, Prigozhin complained in January of “infighting, corruption, bureaucracy and officials who want to stay in their positions,” as well as what he called constant attempts to “steal victory.” by Wagner.

In January, the United States officially designated Wagner’s group a “transnational criminal organization,” and the European Union accused Wagner’s forces of human rights violations, including torture and extrajudicial killings in Ukraine, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, and Mozambique.

Military analyst Oleh Zhdanov said the situation around Bakhmut is likely to remain the most difficult facing Ukrainian forces as Russia deploys more and more conscripts to attack the city.

“The area south of Bakhmut is a very difficult sector,” Zhdanov said in an online interview.

“And the city itself remains the hottest place on the front right now,” he said.

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