HomeWorld News'Exhausted' Wagner Group Unlikely To Fight Beyond Bakhmut–ISW

‘Exhausted’ Wagner Group Unlikely To Fight Beyond Bakhmut–ISW

Wagner Group mercenaries are unlikely to continue fighting beyond Bakhmut according to an assessment by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) that comes amid disputed reports over whether the city had been captured.

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday his forces had taken the Donetsk city in a claim that was denied by Ukraine’s armed forces, which said fighting there was continuing. Kyiv has admitted its troops were pushed out of high-rise buildings and were on the outskirts of the city.

On Monday, Ukraine’s armed forces said that “the enemy continues to lead offensive actions,” and that “fighting for the city of Bakhmut continues.” Kyiv had previously said that its hold of the city was reduced to an “insignificant” part of southwestern Bakhmut around the TO504 highway.

Wagner mercenaries had probably secured the western administrative borders of the city while Ukrainian forces are prioritizing counterattacks on its outskirts, the think tank said in its update on Sunday.

Ukrainian soldiers ride on a BMP infantry fighting vehicle near the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut on May 20, 2023. Wagner mercenaries fighting for Moscow claim to have taken the city, although Kyiv insists fighting is ongoing.

Moscow’s forces will likely need extra reinforcements to hold the city and its flanks “at the expense of operations in other directions.”

The ISW said that after months of urban combat, Wagner forces were nearing culmination—the point at which they cannot go any further—and that it would be “unlikely” that Wagner can continue fighting beyond the city “at its current depleted state.”

Wagner forces had probably been nearing culmination when they battled through the city but were able to continue the fight because of flank support from regular Russian forces, the ISW said.

Prominent military blogger and former Russian commander Igor Girkin said that Russian forces are “exhausted,” as are Wagner troops who he said stopped at the city’s outskirts and “crawled” to the city administration’s border.

“Now we should be waiting for the return move from the enemy,” he said in a post in which he described the claimed victory as “Pyrrhic” and “not worth the effort and money spent on it.”

Prigozhin had said that he would withdraw his troops on May 25, which would mean that conventional Russian forces will be “even more unlikely” to pursue offensive operations, the ISW said.

“It is currently unclear if Prigozhin will actually withdraw his forces from Bakhmut,” the think tank said, “but some milbloggers are speculating that Prigozhin will commit Wagner to a different ‘critical’ frontline at the end of the month.”

Newsweek has emailed Wagner’s press service for comment.



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