In a letter sent to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, the Russian paramilitary group Wagner’s chief on Saturday asked Moscow to let him hand over the Bakhmut positions to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“I ask you to issue a combat order before 00:00 on May 10 concerning the transfer of the positions of the Wagner paramilitary units in Bakhmut and its periphery, to the units of the Akhmat battalion” Yevgeny Prigozhin said. The Akhmat battalion refers to the Chechen combat units under the command of Kadyrov, who has ruled Russia’s Muslim-majority republic Chechnya for the last decade and a half.
Prigozhin said that his fighters would be compelled to withdraw because of a long “ammunition famine”.
He condemned the Russian defence ministry for delivering only 32 per cent of the required ammunition since October 2022.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to send forces replacing Wagner in Bakhmut
Chechen leader and a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ramzan Kadyrov, said his forces are ready to replace Wagner Group mercenaries in Bakhmut.
This comes after Wagner Group announced the withdrawal of forces from the Bakhmut region with its leader Prigozhin citing lack of ammunition as the reason.
Kadyrov, reacting to Wagner’s comments on leaving Bakhmut and giving the command to Russian Defense Ministry’s forces, said, “If the elder brother Prigozhin and Wagner fighters leave, the General Staff will lose an experienced combat unit, but the younger brother Kadyrov and the Akhmat unit will replace them in Artyomovsk.”
“If such a scenario is implemented, our fighters are ready to advance and take the city. However, we would like the last remaining two kilometers to be taken not at the expense of the lives of our warriors but as a result of mutual understanding, support and the determination of commanders and soldiers,” Kadyrov noted.
“The interests of the state and the country’s security should come first. Once the special military operation is over, I would like all of us to emerge victorious and all the soldiers, commanders and Russian patriots to stand together,” Kadyrov added.
Wagner group on Friday announced that it will pull out from the Bakhmut region where the battle to overrun Ukrainian resistance is continuing with sharp intensity for nearly two months.
Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin said that his men were facing a lack of ammunition and that he would expect the army to take their place in Bakhmut next Wednesday.
“My lads will not suffer useless and unjustified losses in Bakhmut without ammunition,” Prigozhin said in a video accompanying a written withdrawal announcement addressed to military leaders including President Vladimir Putin.
In the announcement he condemned ‘bureaucrats’ for holding back the ammunition supplies despite knowing that Wagner’s target date to capture the city was May 9, which is also the day of the World War Two commemoration.
“If, because of your petty jealousy, you do not want to give the Russian people the victory of taking Bakhmut, that’s your problem,” Prigozhin added in the video.
As per RIA news agency reports, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had instructed one of his deputy ministers to ensure troops had all the weapons they needed.