Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has described the Russian army as clowns. He sets clear conditions for his further assistance at the front.
Bakhmut/Moscow – For weeks, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has been criticizing the Russian military and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. He denounces corruption and unnecessary bureaucracy, and taunts the Russian leadership. Weeks ago, he threatened to withdraw his Wagner group from Bakhmut. Now he seems to be serious. Prigozhin gave a specific date for the withdrawal. And: He has conditions for re-entry into the war. Putin's army is apparently coming off worse than ever before.
After Bakhmut conquest: Prigozhin announces withdrawal of Wagner troops – on June 5
On his 62nd birthday at a training camp, Prigozhin confirmed the withdrawal, according to the Reuters news agency. His troops will withdraw from Bakhmut on June 5. By Monday, the mercenary group wants to hand over the area to the Russian army.
For months, Bakhmut had been one of the toughest battles in the Ukraine war. At the end of May, the Wagner boss had announced the capture of Bakhmut by the Wagner Group. How much of the city is actually under Russian control cannot be clarified with certainty. After the announced conquest, Prigozhin had announced a withdrawal of his troops only on May 25, later on June 1, in order to allow the mercenary troops to recover, according to dpa and ntv.
Retreat from Bakhmut: Western experts with devastating assessment for Prigozhin
Withdrawal and recovery are now expected to actually take place on 5 June. "It's been a tough year," Prigozhin said, according to Reuters. After the month, "we'll see how it goes," the boss continued. Western experts believe that Prigozhin's private army has been weakened after the battles for Bakhmut and is hardly capable of new attacks, the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW) said.
The leader of the mercenary force already has a concrete plan for the time-out, which is expected to last about a month, according to Reuters. Prigozhin, who, according to assessments, is indeed a threat to Putin, apparently plans to retreat with his men to camps in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.
Wagner boss Prigozhin at an event in Vladivostok. A day later, he again mocked the Russian army. (Archive image) © Lev Borodin/Imago
Before retreat: Prigozhin mocks Putin's army – "led only by clowns"
Prigozhin sets conditions for a further deployment of the Wagner mercenaries in the Ukraine war. His private army will only continue to participate in the war if they are given their own section at the front, reports ntv. In addition, his troops will not participate "if the entire chain of command has failed one hundred percent and is now led only by clowns who turn people into flesh," Reuters quotes. This is not the first time that Yevgeny Prigozhin has verbally fired directly at the army. At the same time, the Wagner Group is also repeatedly said to be dependent on the Russian military.
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Fancy a voyage of discovery?
Retreat from the war? However, Prigozhin apparently left little doubt about his will to continue waging war. "Nice, isn't it," he reportedly said with a smile to a Russian reporter, according to Reuters. He was probably looking at the sky illuminated by shots and flares from his mercenaries. The planned transfer of the front in Bakhmut to the Russian army is already said to be chaotic due to the Ukrainian counteroffensive. (chd/dpa)