Wagner chief asks Moscow to hand Bakhmut positions to Chechen forces
The chief of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner on Saturday asked Moscow to let him hand over his positions in the hotspot city of Bakhmut to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
“I ask you to issue a combat order before 00:00 on May 10 concerning the transfer of the positions of the Wagner paramilitary units in Bakhmut and its periphery, to the units of the Akhmat battalion” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a letter to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Akhmat battalion refers to the Chechen combat units under the command of strongman Kadyrov, who has ruled Russia’s Muslim-majority republic Chechnya for the last decade and a half.
Prigozhin said his fighters would be forced to pull out because of a long “ammunition famine.”
He accused the Russian defense ministry of only delivering 32 percent of the required ammunition since October 2022.
Wagner fighters are leading the battle for Bakhmut, during which rivalries between Prigozhin and the conventional army have come to the surface.
On Friday, the Wagner leader threatened to pull out in a series of scathing videos attacking Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
Kadyrov on Friday said on Telegram that his fighters were “ready to advance and occupy the city.”
He praised Wagner units, saying both groups had fought side by side in the “most difficult” battles of Popasna, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk.
In a message earlier on Saturday, Prigozhin thanked Kadyrov for his offer and said Chechen forces would “no doubt” seize Bakhmut.