This video grab taken from a handout footage posted on May 5, 2023 on the Telegram account of the press-service of Concord — a company linked to the chief of Russian mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin — shows Yevgeny Prigozhin addressing the Russian army’s top brass standing in front of Wagner fighters at an undisclosed location. Image Credit: AFP

Moscow: Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia’s Wagner Group mercenary force, said in a sudden and dramatic announcement on Friday that his forces would leave the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut that they have been trying to capture since last summer.

Prigozhin said they would leave on May 10 because of heavy losses and inadequate ammunition supplies.

“I declare on behalf of the Wagner fighters, on behalf of the Wagner command, that on May 10, 2023, we are obliged to transfer positions in the settlement of Bakhmut to units of the defence ministry and withdraw the remains of Wagner to logistics camps to lick our wounds,” Prigozhin said in a statement.

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“I’m pulling Wagner units out of Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they’re doomed to perish senselessly.” Wagner has been spearheading Russia’s attempt to capture Bakhmut since last summer, in the longest and bloodiest battle of the war in Ukraine.

It was not clear if Prigozhin’s statement could be taken at face value, as he has frequently posted impulsive comments in the past. Only last week he withdrew one statement he said he had made as a “joke”.

His latest one followed an expletive-filled video published early on Friday in which Prigozhin, surrounded by dozens of corpses he said were Wagner fighters, yelled and swore at Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov. He said they were to blame for Wagner’s losses because they had starved it of ammunition.

New drone attack on southern Russia refinery
A drone attack on the Ilsky oil refinery in southern Russia, the second in as many days, has caused a fire, TASS news agency reported on Friday, citing emergency services.
Ukrainian military command said in its Friday morning report that 18 out 24 drones launched by Russian forces had been shot down.
It said the Russian military had launched 10 missile strikes on the cities of Kramatorsk and Zaporizhzhia, and also carried out 75 airstrikes and dozens of rocket attacks.
Nearly 50 Russian attacks were repelled along the main sectors of the front line in eastern and southern Ukraine, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Thursday evening.
The heaviest fighting is still in Bakhmut and in Maryinka, further south in Donetsk region, it said.
Record high water levels could overwhelm a major dam in southern Ukraine and damage parts of the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, a Russian official told TASS news agency.