Concord Press Service/via REUTERS
- The Wagner Group lost more than 100 people in a single day, the organization’s founder said Tuesday.
- Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin issued a repeated plea for more ammunition from Russia’s military.
- The paramilitary group has suffered heavy losses during the fighting in Bakhmut.
The Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary organization that has suffered significant casualties throughout the brutal fighting in Bakhmut, lost more than 100 people in a single day during an effort to capture 160 meters of land, according to the mercenary group’s leader.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group and a one-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, described the assault in an audio recording posted to his Telegram channel this week.
Prigozhin said units of Wagner soldiers advanced on the Ukrainians’ position in Bakhmut on Tuesday, ultimately capturing 53,000 square meters, but losing 103 people during the process. The leader blamed an ongoing lack of necessary ammunition for the slaughter.
“We are still not given ammunition in the required amounts,” Prigozhin said in the audio recording.
—Dmitri (@wartranslated) May 2, 2023
The repeated plea for more artillery shells comes just three days after Prigozhin threatened to withdraw his Wagner forces from the stalemated region over shell shortages. In an audio statement published to Telegram on Saturday, Prigozhin said the group lost 94 fighters that day due to a lack of ammunition, according to Al Jazeera.
Prigozhin’s ultimatum is the most recent escalation in a months-long clash between Russia’s military brass and the mercenary group, which has continually complained about a lack of official support, despite supplying tens of thousands of fighters to Russia’s war effort and suffering significant losses in recent months.
“If the ammunition deficit is not replenished, we are forced — in order not to run like cowardly rats afterward — to either withdraw or die,” Prigozhin said in the Saturday Telegram message.
Prigozhin has previously said that his Wagner troops receive only 800 of the 4,000 shells requested daily, according to Washington DC-based think tank, The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), in a predicament he has come to refer to as “shell hunger.”
In an interview with a Russian military blogger published on Saturday, Prigozhin delivered a direct ultimatum to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu over the ammunition shortages, threatening to withdraw his troops if they didn’t receive a response in 24 hours.
Despite his weekend threat, Prigozhin did not appear to withdraw his troops ahead of Tuesday’s movements, even as he claimed to still be suffering from “shell hunger.”
Prigozhin’s recent reports of heavy losses seem, at least in part, to contradict Russia’s recent claims that the country is whittling down Ukraine’s forces in the east, as the bloodiest, longest battle of the war thus far drags on in Bakhmut.
The Wagner Group sparked global outrage earlier in the war after offering convicted prisoners a chance at freedom in exchange for their fighting in Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials said last month that the group can only afford to throw its bodies into the fighting in Bakhmut for another two months before it runs out of men.
Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.