Defence Military National Security Russia Ukraine

Russian Troops Taking Over From Wagner in Bakhmut Are Abandoning Their Positions

Russian soldiers who have taken over military positions in Bakhmut from Wagner troops have quickly abandoned them out of fear, a Ukrainian officer told The Times of London.

The head of intelligence for Ukraine’s 228th Battalion, who goes by the call sign “Zulu,” said Ukraine’s efforts have been aided by soldiers from the traditional Russian military taking over from the mercenary force.

“As soon as Wagner left and the regular Russian troops stepped in, they abandoned their positions,” he said, adding: “The Wagner fighters would hold positions until the very end. Many of them were prisoners, right? So they knew it was either fight or go back to prison.”

The Wagner Group, which has thousands of mercenary fighters and prisoners serving in Ukraine, has spearheaded Russia’s efforts to capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.

The battle is considered the longest and bloodiest of the war to date.

Zulu said that Russian soldiers “have no motivation. They don’t understand what they are doing here. So as soon as they are afraid, they just run.”

The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, complained earlier this month that some of the main army’s forces had “abandoned their positions” near Bakhmut, while blaming “stupid” and “criminal” orders given by senior military commanders.

The Kremlin has not responded publicly to the allegations.

Russia has been inching forward in Bakhmut for months. But Ukraine retook several miles around the city this month using surprise counterattacks.

Western officials estimated in early March that up to 30,000 Russian troops had been killed or injured in the city. NATO predicted that Russia was losing five soldiers for every Ukrainian killed.

The Wagner Group has been involved in an escalating feud with Russia’s traditional military leadership, which has included Prigozhin accusing them of denying his troops ammunition.

He threatened this month to pull his forces out of the city, but later said that his troops would stay, after they were promised the ammunition they needed.

Ukraine’s 228th Battalion recently withdrew from Bakhmut, the Times reported.

Kostiantyn Zhydkov, the commander of the 228th Battalion, described the brutality of the fighting to the Times: “I haven’t seen anything as terrifying as this during the entire war.”

“It was like something I had only previously seen in films about the Second World War. It’s like the Battle for Stalingrad,” he added.

Zhydkov described a day when Russian soldiers used a grenade launcher to get into a five-story apartment building that was controlled by Ukrainian forces.

“They got into the basement. But we could see them from above. And so we just dropped grenades down. They all died.”

Commanders on both sides have called the battle for Bakhmut a “meat grinder.”

Source : Business Insider