The head of Russia’s mercenary group Wagner has said he will withdraw his fighters from Bakhmut “to lick our wounds” and avoid “facing a senseless death”, after he angrily accused Kremlin officials of withholding ammunition.
"On May 10, 2023 we will have to hand over our positions in Bakhmut to units of the defence ministry and withdraw Wagner units to rear camps to lick our wounds," Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a statement on Telegram.
"I will pull out Wagner units from Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they are facing a senseless death," he said, adding that he was waiting for "orders to leave Bakhmut".
Earlier on Friday morning, Prigozhin released a shocking video (GRAPHIC WARNING) in which he appeared surrounded by the dead bodies of Wagner fighters.
Shouting into the camera, he said: “These are the Wagner PMC guys who died today, still bleeding fresh. Now listen to me - these are somebody's fathers and sons. And those who don't give us ammunition will be in hell.
“We have a 70% ammunition shortage, f..ck! Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where is f..king ammunition? Look at them!
“You are sitting in expensive clubs. Your kids are having a blast making videos on YouTube. You think you are the masters of this life and have the right to dispose of their lives.”
A screengrab from the video the mercenary chief released this morning.
His full statement about the withdrawal from Bakhmut reads:
“By May 9, 2023, we were supposed to take Bakhmut, but knowing this, from May 1, near-military bureaucrats practically cut us off from any artillery ammunition. The units of the Russian Defense Ministry, which are designed to cover our flanks, are having a hard time holding them back. Due to the lack of ammunition, our losses are growing exponentially every day.
"I am officially addressing the Chief of the General Staff, the Minister of Defense, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief and the people of Russia. I declare on behalf of the Wagner PMC fighters, on behalf of the Wagner PMC command, that on May 10, 2023, we are forced to transfer positions in the Bakhmut settlement to units of the Ministry of Defense and withdraw the remnants of the Wagner PMC to the rear camps to lick their wounds.
"I am withdrawing Wagner units from Bakhmut because, in the absence of ammunition, they are doomed to a senseless death. I appeal openly, since not a single letter of mine was considered, I reported on all the problems starting from March 19, 2022."
⚡️#Prigozhin claims that #Wagner will hand over positions to the troops of the Russian Federation.— KyivPost (@KyivPost) May 5, 2023
“In the absence of ammunition, we are doomed to a senseless death,” he said. pic.twitter.com/Ng7AFa3174
Later on Friday, the Prigozhin's tirade against Russian authorities continued when in another video he blamed army chiefs for "tens of thousands" killed and wounded Russian fighters in Ukraine.
He said the massive losses "are on the conscience of those who did not give us ammunition, and that is Defence Minister (Sergei) Shoigu and Chief of General Staff (Valery) Gerasimov".
"For the tens of thousands killed and wounded, they will bear responsibility in front of their mothers and children, I will achieve that."
Prigozhin is closely linked to President Vladimir Putin and the two started their careers in business and politics in their native Saint Petersburg following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
He is frequently critical of the Russian army's top brass over the issue of ammunition but the level of criticism and emotive language are unprecedented.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter