Ukraine: Prigozhin says Bakhmut is ‘surrounded’ by Wagner
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Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed that Vladimir Putin and his Kremlin allies have cut off his communication lines with Russian officials. This move comes amid a growing internal power battle that has pitted the head of the Wagner Group mercenaries against Vladimir Putin’s defence ministry and Russia’s regular army. The private Wagner mercenary army has been a key fighting force for the Russians in Ukraine, particularly in the ongoing conflict in Bakhmut on the frontline.
However, Mr Prigozhin has suggested that his recent demands for more ammunition from Russian officials have led to the latest punishment.
In his latest Telegram message from the frontline, he said: “Our ammunition has not improved.
“But there has indeed been a change.
“In order for me to stop asking for ammunition, I have had all special communication phones in all offices, in all units, switched off.”
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He added: “They have blocked all passes to the state agencies that make decisions.
“I will not name them so as not to discredit them in any way. So now I can only ask through the media.”
Last week, Mr Prigozhin slammed the Russian military brass and accused the Russian central command of “betrayal” by not supplying ammunition the Wagner Group needs to defeat the Ukrainians in Bakhmut.
He also appeared to threaten President Putin and his defence chiefs after he warned that if his troops did not receive any more ammunition, they would retreat and the entire Russian frontline would collapse.
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In a four-minute video message from Bakhmut, Mr Prigozhin said the retreat of mercenaries from Bakhmut due to “ammunition shortage” would lead to the collapse of the front up to the Russian border “or even further”.
He added that Crimea would also fall to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, earlier this morning, the US think tank the Institute for the Study of War confirmed that Wagner appears to be taking a “tactical pause” in Bakhmut.
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The ISW believes that Wagner is waiting until enough reinforcements of conventional Russian troops have arrived before re-engaging in the battle.
The ISW report stated: “The arrival of an increased number of conventional Russian forces to the area may suggest that Russian forces intend to offset the possible culmination of Wagner’s offensive operations in #Bakhmut with new conventional troops.”
This week, Russia expert Olga Lautman told Express.co.uk suggested that the mercenary boss seems to be plotting a “power grab” against President Putin.
She said the Russian President is threatened by Mr Prigozgin, but Moscow’s military still needs the help of Wagner forces.
Dr Lautman explained: “I think he is trying to carve out a path for a power grab.
“Putin is stuck because he needs the Wagner mercenaries, and he needs the defence ministry.
“If he goes against Prigozhin, he knows that will cause an even bigger split.
“He is doing it for a power grab, and I think eventually he will challenge Putin.”
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