Ukraine’s counter-offensive will begin next week, says Wagner boss

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By Webdesk

Prigozhin blames Russia for a lack of ammunition and warns that Ukraine is sending its best units to Bakhmut.

The head of Russia’s Wagner Group said Ukraine’s counter-offensive is likely to begin after May 2, as he warned his mercenaries don’t have enough ammunition.

Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an audio message on the Telegram app on Wednesday that Ukrainian counter-attacks were “inevitable” and that Kiev is sending well-trained units to the besieged city of Bakhmut, where bloody fighting has raged for months.

But “we will advance at all costs, just to bring down the Ukrainian army and disrupt their offensive,” he said.

Ukrainian troops will attack next month, when the weather improves and the ground hardens, he added.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Russian mercenary force of the Wagner Group [File: Concord Press Service/via Reuters]

Prigozhin, who has long rowed with Russia’s defense ministry over a lack of weapons, reiterated his displeasure, saying his fighters suffered many casualties.

He also wondered why Russian troops had not yet launched missions to take the nearby cities of Sloviansk or Kramatorsk to relieve pressure on Bakhmut.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive has long been rumored to take place in the spring, and in recent weeks officials in Kiev have said large-scale attacks could happen at any time.

On April 11, Prigozhin said more than 80 percent of Bakhmut was controlled by his Wagner forces, which Ukraine has denied.

This photo, taken on April 23, 2023, shows a wrecked vehicle near a shelling-damaged residential building in the frontline city of Bakhmut
A wrecked vehicle near a shell-damaged residential building in the front-line town of Bakhmut, Donetsk region of Ukraine [Anatolii Stepanov / AFP]

Russia has long said that capturing Bakhmut would allow its forces to mount further offensives in eastern Ukraine, but Western analysts say the fall of the city would not mean a major victory for Moscow.

Kiev has also downplayed Bakhmut’s strategic significance to Moscow, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeatedly refused to withdraw his troops.

If Moscow successfully takes the city, it would be Russia’s first major advance since a series of losses in the northeastern regions of Kharkov and southern Kherson last year.

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