In a surprising turn of events, the head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, revealed on Thursday that his forces were under immense pressure on the flanks near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. This pressure has resulted in the loss of strategically important territory that had been captured at great cost.
Prigozhin argued that it was the responsibility of regular Russian forces to protect Wagner's flanks near Bakhmut, which is at the heart of the longest and bloodiest battle of the war. In an audio message, he expressed his concern about the deteriorating situation, stating, "The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst predicted scenario. All the territories that were taken with the blood and lives of our comrades over many months, advancing tens or hundreds of meters a day, are now being thrown away practically without a fight by those who should be holding our flanks."
Russia's defense ministry had earlier stated that its paratroopers were supporting an advance on the western side of the city and had successfully pinned down Ukrainian army units on the flanks. However, Prigozhin's remarks contradicted this claim, indicating that the losses suffered by Wagner's forces were due to inadequate support from Russian military units responsible for securing their flanks.
According to Prigozhin, his fighters currently find themselves just 625 meters (680 yards) away from the western outskirts of Bakhmut. The significance of this proximity cannot be overstated, as it suggests that the fighting may soon intensify within the city itself.
The situation near Bakhmut continues to be a cause for concern, with the Wagner mercenary group now struggling to hold the ground they had fought hard to capture.