Ukraine Unit Says Russian Brigade Flees Outskirts of Bakhmut as Wagner Chief Unleashes Tirade at Russian Military


A senior Ukrainian military official says that Russian forces had dropped back from some areas near Bakhmut after counter-attacks by Kyiv’s forces in the longest-running battle of Moscow’s invasion.

Commander of Ukrainian ground forces Oleksandr Syrskyi said Russian troops had fallen back in some regions of the front in the eastern Donetsk region by up to two kilometres.

“We are seeing the results of the effective actions of our units,” Mr Syrskyi said, explaining that his forces were launching counter-attacks along some portions of the contact line around Bakhmut.

“In some areas of the front, the enemy could not withstand the onslaught of Ukrainian defenders and retreated to a distance of up to two kilometres,” he added.

Tass news agency cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying on Wednesday that Russia’s military operation against Ukraine was “very difficult” but certain goals had been achieved.

Russia had succeeded in severely damaging Ukraine’s military machine and this work would continue, he added. 

Russian troops have battled since last summer to capture Bakhmut, the political importance of which has come to surpass any strategic value.

But Wagner, the Russian paramilitary group leading the Kremlin’s offensive for the city, has publicly complained to Moscow that it lacks resources to hold its positions.

Its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin threatened this week to withdraw his forces from the city if the defence ministry did not bolster its supplies of ammunition.

“Our defence forces are holding the front and preventing the enemy from advancing. The battle for Bakhmut is continuing,” Mr Syrskyi added in his statement on social media.

Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of around 70,000 people, has been destroyed as Russian forces have posted incremental gains over recent months, amounting to some 80 per cent of the city.

Russia to relocate thousands of Ukrainian staff from nuclear plant 

Russia intended to relocate about 3,100 Ukrainian staff from Europe’s largest nuclear plant, Ukraine’s atomic energy company said on Wednesday, warning of a potential “catastrophic lack of qualified personnel” at the Zaporizhzhia facility in Russia-occupied southern Ukraine.

Workers who signed employment contracts with various affiliates of Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom following Moscow’s capture of the Zaporizhzhia plant early in the war are the bulk of those set to be taken to Russia along with their families, Energoatom said in a Telegram post. 

Energoatom did not specify whether the employees would be forcibly moved out of the plant.

It also was not immediately possible to verify Energoatom’s claims about Moscow’s plan. 

Removing staff would “exacerbate the already extremely urgent issue” of staff shortages, Energoatom said.

Fleeing troops leaves Wagner exposed

Mr Prigozhin on Tuesday accused the Russian military unit of fleeing positions near Bakhmut in Ukraine and said the state was incapable of defending its country.

It was the latest tirade from Mr Prigozhin  in recent days attacking Russia’s military leadership.

“Today one of the units of the defence ministry fled from one of our flanks… exposing the front,” Mr Prigozhin said in a video.

The mercenary group has spearheaded Moscow’s fight for the eastern Ukrainian city.

Mr Prigozhin said soldiers were fleeing because of the “stupidity” of Russian army commanders, who he said were giving “criminal orders”.

“Soldiers should not die because of the absolute stupidity of their leadership,” Mr Prigozhin said.

‘State unable to defend Russia’ says Wagner chief

In his unprecedented attack on the Russian army, Mr Prigozhin said Moscow’s top generals were trying to “deceive” President Vladimir Putin over the Kremlin’s Ukraine campaign.

“If all the tasks are being carried out in such a way as to deceive the commander-in-chief [Putin], then either he will rip your arse or the Russian people will — who will be angry that the war is lost,” Mr Prigozhin said.

As Ukraine prepares for a spring offensive, the outspoken 61-year-old questioned the Kremlin’s ability to defend the country.

“Why is the state not able to defend its country?” Mr Prigozhin said in the video, adding that Ukraine was hitting Russian border regions “successfully”.

Mr Prigozhin published the video as Moscow celebrated its Victory Day with a grand military parade on Red Square that was televised across the country.

He said Ukraine was preparing for an offensive “that will be on the ground, not on TV”.

“So far, in our country everyone thinks that everything needs to be done on TV.”

Russia has provided near round-the-clock coverage of its offensive, showing the army in an exclusively positive light.

Source : ABC News