The head of Russia’s Wagner private military company has attempted to explain his group’s failure to capture Bakhmut, an eastern Ukrainian city that has been the scene of intense fighting for months.
During a New Year’s Eve visit with front-line fighters, Yevgeny Prigozhin stated that Bakhmut has “a fortress in every house” and that “only clowns sit around and try to predict these things.”
“Sometimes it takes entire weeks to clear a house, right?” he asked soldiers in a video posted over the weekend to a Wagner Telegram channel.
“They say the combined forces have advanced into Artyomovsk and broken the defense,” he said, referring to Bakhmut as it was known in Soviet times. In 2016, the name was changed back to Bakhmut.
“Then they ask, ‘What does “break through the defense” mean?” ‘Breaking through the defense’ implies breaking through the defense of one house this morning, followed by breaking through the defense of the next house, correct? “He stated.
“There isn’t just one line of defense. Artyomovsk has how many lines of defense? “If we said 500, would that be about right?”
The fighters confirm that there is a Ukrainian line of defense “every 10 meters,” before Prigozhin continues.
“As a result, the question is, “Who will take Artyomovsk? Which combination of forces? “It’ll be the combined Wagner forces,” he said. “But who else? Who else is there besides Wagner PMC?”
“There is no one else,” the soldiers said.
For years, Prigozhin denied any association with Wagner, but in September, he finally admitted to founding the group in 2014.
He has since made frequent appearances on social media, attempting to portray Wagner as the most capable outfit in Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“We will win this year!” But first, we must overcome our internal bureaucracy and corruption,” says Prigozhin in another video.
“Once we conquer our internal bureaucracy and corruption, we will conquer the Ukrainians, NATO, and eventually the entire world,” he adds.
“The problem now is that the bureaucrats and those involved in corruption will not listen to us because they are all drinking champagne for New Year’s.”