Former Russian commander Igor Girkin, who has become an iconic figure to many Russian flag-wavers, published a surprisingly pessimistic overview of the performance of Russian forces during the winter and spring months so far.
In a series of posts on his Telegram channel on April 29 and 30, he bemoans Russia’s failure to capture Bakhmut and the "heavy" losses sustained in the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka, saying that the forces deployed by Wagner and mobilized troops were insufficient for the task. At the same time, Girkin expresses concern about Ukrainian preparations for its counteroffensive.
"Bakhmut had not been 'domesticated' [captured] in a month; the Ukrainian forces continued to defend on the western outskirts, deciding to hold out for a counteroffensive on some other front. PWC Wagner is de-blooded; its strike force, even with constant feeding by volunteer units and mobilization from the MoD was not enough to complete the operation in April,” he wrote.
He complained that Ukrainian commanders had achieved their strategic goals in Bakhmut battles while Russia sacrificed troops to no avail.
"The Bakhmut meat grinder continues for both sides, but the enemy [Ukraine] has solved its problems, and our side has not. At Avdiivka, our forces failed and are now forced to pull back again due to heavy losses, leaving some previously occupied positions.
Girkin notes that this was down to ineffective decisions by Russian army generals and intimates that Ukrainian forces will go on the offensive in May and through the summer.
"In May, the summer campaign and the 'move for the Ukrainians' will begin, as our generals managed to do virtually nothing over the winter and spring except dispose of a strike corps in the Donbas."
US Intelligence data suggests that Russia has suffered as many as 100,000 casualties in the war in Ukraine since December alone, as reported by US National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby on May 1.
Girkin wasv also highly critical of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner group, for trying to "openly" blackmail Russia's military leadership. The private military unit's leader had earlier threatened to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut which Girkin said could lead to "catastrophic consequences" for Russia. Calling for the withdrawal of units from “the front without the consent of the high command is a military rebellion and nothing else”, Igor Girkin added.
Girkin, who is also known as Strelkov, first came to notice in the spring of 2014 as an organizer of pro-Russian protests in south-eastern Ukraine. He led a group of separatist militants supporting the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine and, in doing so, gained influence and attention.
He was appointed as Minister of Defense’ of the so-called ‘Donetsk People's Republic’ in May 2014 before being dismissed in the following August, after being accused of responsibility for the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in which 298 people died.
At the moment, Girkin is a military strategist and blogger, popular with many in Russia [although his constant criticism of the performance of the Russian military is proving tiresome to many among the Russian elite].
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