Russia will still deploy Wagner troops despite ‘ongoing feud’ – UK

The Wagner mercenary group will likely be used for further Russian operations in the Donbass region as it begins its withdrawal from parts of Bakhmut, British defense officials have said.

Head of the private military company, Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Friday that his troops had started to withdraw from the city of Donetsk and that positions would be transferred to Russian regular forces until June 1.

Prigozhin waged a months-long feud with the Russian defense establishment which he repeatedly criticized for not supplying his troops with enough ammunition. Last week, Prigozhin said his forces had captured the city in claims initially denied by Ukraine, although kyiv later admitted the city had “essentially” been lost, The New York Times reported.

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Saturday that Russian forces had continued to attack but “overall offensive activity had decreased”.

Ukrainian servicemen marching towards Bakhmut on May 23, 2023 in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine. It is said that the Wagnerian mercenaries fighting for Moscow have been withdrawing from the fought city for months.
Yevhenii Zavhorodnii/Getty Images

Indeed, “troops are being replaced and regrouped,” Malyar said on Telegram, adding that Russia “is trying to build up its own capabilities.”

Meanwhile, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) had likely entered Bakhmut to launch “demining operations”.

Also, parts of the 31st Brigade of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) had probably moved from the Svatove-Kreminna area to reinforce the flanks of the city.

By mid-May, Ukrainian forces had taken 7.7 square miles on Bakhmut’s flanks, and the rotation of Wagner’s forces “will likely continue in controlled phases to avoid the collapse of the pockets around Bakhmut”, he said. declared the British MOD.

Regardless of the continuing dispute between Prigozhin and the Russian MOD, “Wagner’s forces are likely to be used for further offensive operations in Donbass after his forces are replenished,” added the daily update, which tends to emphasize on Russian gains and Ukrainian losses.

Newsweek contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

Ukrainian sources said Wagner’s forces are still in Bakhmut and the pace of Russian offensive operations around the city continues to slow, according to the Institute for the Study of War.

The think tank said Friday that continued successful limited Ukrainian counterattacks on Bakhmut’s flanks “could complicate” the Russian operation to relieve Wagner’s troops in Bakhmut.

A Russian blogger shared a video of Prigozhin visiting rear positions where Wagner’s forces are supposed to retreat. However, the ISW said it had seen confirmation that Russian regular forces were occupying Wagner’s positions in Bakhmut itself “or that Wagner was leaving the town”.


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