Putin panic as Russian forces ‘withdraw in bad order’ in Bakhmut

Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin slams Putin

Russian troops appear to have pulled out of positions close to Ukraine “in bad order”, with the UK’s Ministry of Defence claiming Ukrainian forces have made significant territorial gains. Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of mercenary army the Wagner Group, yesterday launched a blistering attack on Russian army chiefs, accusing soldiers of fleeing and adding: “Our flanks are crumbling”.

And his withering assessment appears to have been backed up by the latest DefenceHQ bulletin this morning.

The MoD account tweeted: “Over the last four days, elements of Russia’s 72nd Separate Motor Rifle Brigade (72 SMRB) likely withdrew in bad order from their positions on the southern flank of the Bakhmut operation. Ukrainian forces regained at least a kilometre of territory.”

The area had some tactical significance because it was a Russian bridgehead on the western side of the Donets-Donbas Canal marking the front line through parts of the sector, the MoD said.

It added: “72 SMRB is an element of Russia’s 3rd Army Corps, a formation created in Autumn 2023 and dogged with allegations of poor morale and limited combat effectiveness.

“Its deployment to such a demanding and operationally important sector highlights Russia’s severe shortage of credible combat units.”

In a video statement, Prigozhin claimed the Ukrainian forces have reclaimed key heights around the city and effectively unblocked the key supply link to Bakhmut.

He once again accused the military leadership of refusing to provide sufficient ammunition to Wagner.

Addressing Russia’s military leaders, he added: “You must immediately stop lying. If you fled, you must prepare new defensive lines.”

Prigozhin – who seems to use harsh criticism to pressure the Kremlin for more support and improve his stature – said the Russian Defense Ministry’s failure to protect Wagner’s flanks amounted to high treason and could result in a “great tragedy” for his country.

Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov insisted Russian airborne units were still supporting ground forces to “stop the attempts of the Ukrainian armed forces to counterattack on the flanks.”

Also speaking last night in a live televised address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said: “We are preparing to add even more weapons for you, warriors, to have even more opportunities to defeat the aggressor and restore peace.

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“I spoke today with British Prime Minister Sunak. Thank you, Rishi, for your continued support and the steps which make it clear to the world that the UK will always lead the way.”

He added: “We discussed our current weapons cooperation, our next defence cooperation, and the diplomatic steps we must take together to bring our shared victory closer.

“To guarantee: whoever is the aggressor against the free world, he will end up with the same disgrace as the Kremlin.”

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