Ukraine Situation Report: Wagner Boss Slams Russian Government For Lack Of Ammo
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, says Russians are dying needlessly in Bakhmut because of the lack of ammunition.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a putative close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the boss of the Wagner mercenary group, called out the Kremlin Wednesday for failing to provide enough ammunition as Ukraine prepares for a looming offensive.
"What's going on now with the Ukrainian Armed Forces counter-offensive?" Prigohzin, whose troops have borne the brunt of the battle for Bakhmut, asked rhetorically in an audio message posted on his Telegram channel, according to a translation by Times Radio. "It's raining today and the last of the rain is forecast for May 2. Another week will be needed for the winds to dry the ground. After that, the Ukrainian Army will be ready to move."
The Ukrainian Army "is fully ready to move out and cover flanks," he added. "Nobody has ever covered our flanks. All the stories about preventing the Ukrainian reserves from entering Bakhmut is total crap. Not a single shot was made by the Russian Army. Nobody is giving them ammunition. Not to them, not to us. A criminal order was made not to give out ammunition."
"Ammunition is stacked high in warehouses as I already said before," Prigozhin fumed. "Scumbags who made these decisions should be answerable to the mothers of those killed in action."
Due to the lack of ammunition, too many troops are dying, Prigozhin said.
"Five people are dying instead of one," he complained. "It is a five-to-one ratio. One soldier should die when coming into a building. But five are dying because there's no ammunition. The Ukrainian offensive is inevitable. There's treason inside the Russian Federation. We are not even allowed to build up our defenses."
As Prigozhin fulminated, the commander of Ukraine's Special Operations Forces (SSO) Gen. Viktor Khorenko visited Bakhmut Wednesday. He familiarized himself with the current situation in the city and talked with the soldiers of the SSO units defending the city.
"Indeed, the situation in Bakhmut is difficult, but who but you knows what needs to be done and how to act in the current conditions," he told the troops, according to his Telegram channel. "Your work here once again proves that the SSO is primarily an advantage of quality over quantity."
Khorenko emphasized the importance of the work of special-purpose groups during the defense of Bakhmut and noted the professionalism of SSO operators.
"For a long time, the soldiers of the Special Operations Forces have been fully performing the task of defending the city, which remains the hottest point of the front," he said. "Despite the superiority of the enemy, and massive attacks aimed at destroying city blocks, operators of the SSO of Ukraine strike the enemy at key areas, destroy his personnel and perform a number of other tasks, hindering the advance of Russian troops."
Perhaps one good piece of news for Russia as its Donbas offensive seems to have stalled is that Moscow appears to be seeing a reduction in combat casualties, according to the U.K. Defense Ministry (MoD).
The MoD, citing Ukrainian figures, suggests that Russia's turn to a more defensive posture along much of the front lines in and around Bakhmut is a likely reason why fewer of its soldiers are getting killed and wounded.
Before we head into today’s latest updates from Ukraine, The War Zone readers can catch up on our previous rolling coverage here.
The long-awaited call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Chinese President Xi Jinping finally took place today.
"During the hour-long conversation, we discussed a full range of topical issues of bilateral relations. Particular attention was paid to the ways of possible cooperation to establish a just and sustainable peace for Ukraine," Zelensky said on his Telegram channel.
"No one wants peace more than the Ukrainian people. We are on our land and fighting for our future, exercising our inalienable right to self-defense. Peace must be just and sustainable, based on the principles of international law and respect for the UN Charter. There can be no peace at the expense of territorial compromises. The territorial integrity of Ukraine must be restored within the 1991 borders."
The two leaders also "discussed ways to strengthen the Ukrainian-Chinese partnership," said Zelensky. "Before the full-scale Russian invasion, China was Ukraine's number one trading partner. I believe that our conversation today will give a powerful impetus to the return, preservation and development of this dynamic at all levels."
Nearly all the combat vehicles Ukraine’s Western allies promised to deliver in time for Kyiv’s expected spring counteroffensive have arrived, NATO’s top military commander said on Wednesday, The New York Times reported.
“Over 98 percent of the combat vehicles are already there,” said Gen. Christopher G. Cavoli, who is also the top commander of U.S. forces in Europe. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, he said, “I am very confident that we have delivered the matériel that they need and we’ll continue a pipeline to sustain their operations as well.”
With Ukraine eyeing the liberation of Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014, it appears that Moscow's forces are on the move there.
Satellite imagery viewed by open-source intelligence (OSINT) analyst Brady Africk shows that Russia has emptied the Medvedivka depot in northern Crimea where it stored tanks and other armor as well as artillery between Feb. 11 and April 25.
"Without knowing where the vehicles and equipment from that depot near Mevedivka ended up, it is difficult to draw conclusions as to the significance of Russian removing it all," Africk told The War Zone. "It might have been a decision made due to the need for more equipment near the front line, fear of Ukrainian strikes, or a combination of similar motives."
Speaking of Ukrainian attacks on Crimea, on Monday we wrote about yet another Ukrainian uncrewed surface vessel (USV) attack on Sevastopol, home of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.
Now Ukraine's Defense Intelligence Directorate (GUR) says that despite Russian protestations, the attack did not violate the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
"Ukraine complies with international obligations, including fulfilling all obligations related to the grain corridor," said GUR spokesman Andrii Yusov. "The recent events in Crimea concerned only military facilities and are in no way related to the grain agreement, which provides for Ukrainian ports and civilian ports when it comes to the territory controlled by Ukraine."
Yesterday, we wrote about the more than four million howitzer shells, rockets, mortars and other munitions the U.S. has provided Ukraine. Today, The Wall Street Journal took a deep dive into concerns about this nation's supply chain, especially with lingering problems from a 2021 explosion at a Louisiana factory that was "the sole domestic source of an explosive the Department of Defense relies on to produce bullets, mortar shells, artillery rounds and Tomahawk missiles."
"The ramshackle facility makes the original form of gunpowder, known today as black powder, a highly combustible material with hundreds of military applications," the newspaper reported. "The product, for which there is no substitute, is used in small quantities in munitions to ignite more powerful explosives."
The factory remains offline, highlighting the precarious nature of the U.S. weapons supply chain for items like Stingers, howitzers, anti-armor systems and artillery ammunition.
"Stocks are low in both the U.S. and its NATO allies, especially in 155mm howitzer shells, an ammunition that has been crucial to pushing back Russian forces."
“Can you imagine what would happen to these supply chains if the U.S. were in an actual state of active war, or NATO was?” said Jeff Rhoads, executive director of the Purdue Institute for National Security, a defense-research institute at Purdue University. “They could be in trouble very quickly.”
Ukraine's Air Force released a video of one of its new Patriot air defense systems. The 2-minute, 30-second video gives a good look inside and outside one of the systems, on duty somewhere in Ukraine. The two systems - one donated by the U.S. and one a combination of German and Dutch components - arrived in Ukraine last week.
The Slovenian government delivered 20 Valuk six-wheeled armored personnel carriers to Ukraine, the Slovenian 24ur news outlet reported Wednesday.
The vehicles "were delivered to Ukraine in complete secrecy," 24ur reported. Slovenian Valuks are armed with 40 mm automatic grenade launchers or 12.7 mm machine guns, "and we had 85 of them in our composition and they were in the Slovenian Army for 24 years." The newest weapons Slovenia sent to Ukraine, "they are intended for the transport of infantry and protect them from anti-personnel mines and infantry weapons up to 12.7 mm caliber."
The Dutch Marines, who trained Ukrainian troops, are pleased those troops using the Swedish Bandvagn BvS 10 armored tracked all-terrain vehicles the Netherlands provided.
The United Kingdom was the first nation to promise Western tanks to Ukraine, offering up Challenger 2 main battle tanks. Having been delivered last month, they are now on the battlefield and ready for combat.
Wednesday marked the 37th anniversary of the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident that left much of Europe contaminated with radioactive cesium, though the ultimate danger could have been much worse.
"37 years ago, the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant left a huge scar on the whole world," Zelensky said at a commemoration event. "The radiation leak turned the once cozy and developed territory into an exclusion zone. Today, the 30-kilometer zone around Chornobyl remains a dangerous place with a high concentration of radiation."
The deactivated plant and surrounding exclusion zone was captured by Russia as it drove south through it from Belarus on the first night of the all-out war.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate resumed the work of the Nuclear Safety Inspection unit responsible for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe's largest and occupied by the Russians since the early days of the all-out war.
You can read about one researcher's concerns about Russia's occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in our deep dive here.
Nearly a year ago today, we interviewed Ukrainian Maj. Borden Krotevych from inside the besieged Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol.
Back from captivity, he is planning to revive the Azov brigade, hailed by Ukrainians for holding out for months at the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol, the Azov brigade is scrambling to rebuild from heavy combat losses as it seeks to play a muscular role in Ukraine’s next major assault, The Washington Post reports.
The high-profile unit is hoping to recruit 6,500 new fighters who will provide restored combat heft even as its leaders push for the return of more than 1,000 brigade troops who remain in Russia as prisoners of war.
“We are ready to liberate territory,” Krotevych, who is the brigade’s interim commander and is leading the rebuilding effort after his release from Russian captivity in the fall, said in an interview.
Speaking of Mariupol, Google Maps has updated its satellite images of the Azov Sea port city of Mariupol, devastated during a brutal Russian siege and ongoing occupation.
Russia keeps hitting Ukrainian cities. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry (MoD) said that a woman was killed and 10 people injured after a missile strike on Kupyansk in the Kharkiv Oblast on Tuesday.
In the age of drones, damaged armor is in great peril on the battlefield. In this case, a damaged Russian T-72A tank was destroyed after being hit by a Ukrainian First Person Video (FPV) drone. The resulting hit detonated the tank's ammunition, finishing it off.
Ukraine is also using FPV drones to attack buildings, like this Russian surveillance system at the Nova Khakhovka power plant.
There are a whole bunch of new drones heading to Ukrainian troops.
“We are sending 100 kamikaze drones to the Bakhmut direction,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, said on his Telegram channel.
“In two days, subscribers of the Blyskavka online publication raised more than UAH 10.4 million (about $283,000) for 500 kamikaze drones through UNITED24.”
The first batch of those drones “is already flying to one of the air reconnaissance units of the 59th brigade. They will help the fighters quickly deliver ‘gifts’ to the Russians. Thanks to partners and everyone who supports the Drone Army."
But regardless of technological advances, snipers will always have a role, like these Russian troops in the bombed-out city of Marinka.
A Russian "Basurmanin" BMP-1AM infantry fighting vehicle parked next to a building in Luhansk Oblast was destroyed by the Ukrainian army.
Ukraine keeps adding to its trophy collection, in this case a Russian T-62M tank captured in Kherson Oblast. It may be old, but if nothing else, the tank can be used as an indirect fire platform.
Ukraine continues to find innovative ways to use tractors to clear mines, in this case adding armored plating and pushing a wheeled roller.
And finally, one soldier seems to have found some beauty in the horrors of trench warfare. He turned the walls of one trench into a work of art, carving faces into the mud.
That's it for now. We'll update this story when there is more news to report about Ukraine.
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