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Ukraine has revealed its forces have killed scores of Russian Wagner mercenaries as they tried to withdraw from the embattled city of Bakhmut.
Some 80 Wagner fighters were killed and a further 119 were wounded after Ukrainian troops attacked their positions as they retreated from the eastern city, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin announced last week his mercenary units are retreating from Bakhmut and being replaced by Russian paratroopers and motorised units after he admitted 20,000 of his troops had been killed in the battle for the city.
The battle for Bakhmut has raged for nearly one year, levelling the industrial hub and wiping out waves of Wagner recruits who have led the assault.
And Serhiy Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the eastern group of Ukrainian Forces, has revealed that 80 Wagner fighters were killed by Ukrainian forces as they withdrew from the city.
Ukraine has revealed its forces have killed scores of Russian Wagner mercenaries as they tried to withdraw from the embattled city of Bakhmut. Pictured: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin with Wagner mercenaries in Bakhmut on May 20
Ukrainian service members ride a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle Bushmaster near the city of Bakhmut on May 30
Cherevatyi told news outlet Ukrinform: ‘In recent days, we have seen a significant decrease in fighting, there were 2-3 clashes. This day there were none at all.
‘The enemy continues to rotate, withdrawing the ‘Wagner’ group, replacing it with units of airborne troops and motorized infantry.’
He said Wagner’s withdrawal from Bakhmut ‘has a depressing effect on those who take their place’.
‘They themselves have already taken part in a lot of fighting, this is the second or third group that comes in, plus they see the condition of the criminals from Wagner mercenaries.’
Cherevatyi said Ukraine’s military was conducting ‘a reorganisation and other military moves… so that further movement can be even more successful in terms of hitting the enemy’.
Russia’s Wagner private army began handing over positions to regular troops this week after declaring full control of Bakhmut following the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.
‘We are withdrawing units from Bakhmut today. We are handing over positions to the military, ammunition and everything,’ Prigozhin said in a video on Thursday.
‘We pull back, we rest, we prepare and then we will get new tasks,’ Prigozhin told his troops on the front lines.
Prigozhin is withdrawing having largely achieved his goals to wrestle Bakhmut from Ukrainian control – but Kyiv has refused to acknowledge the city is completely lost.
But his success has come at a grave cost. Earlier this week, the Wagner boss conceded around 20,000 of his troops had been killed in the battle for Bakhmut, roughly 10,000 of which were recruited from Russian jails.
A Ukrainian soldier covers his ears while firing a mortar at Russian positions on the frontline near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 29
Yevgeny Prigozhin announced he was withdrawing his forces from Bakhmut and handing over their positions to regular Russian troops last week
The figures are the result of the group’s sordid WWI-style human wave tactics that see recruits used as cannon fodder to soak up Ukrainian bullets and artillery fire.
Not only were Wagner battalions sent to the battlefield with little to no training and expected to cover ground under heavy artillery fire, but they were forced to do so with little support from the Russian regular army.
Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ who is behind the Wagner Group ?
Nicknamed ‘Putin’s chef’ due to owning a number of restaurants and catering firms that supply the Kremlin, Yevgeny Prigozhin is the oligarch founder of the notorious Wagner Group.
Prigozhin was born in the Soviet Union on June 1 1961, before spending a period of time in jail for numerous crimes including fraud and robbery, during his teens.
After spending 9 years in prison, Prigozhin launched a number of businesses following the collapse of the Soviet Union, including grocery and gambling firms.
In 2014, Prigozhin founded Wagner Group during Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine. The mercenary group has since become notorious for doing the Russian military’s dirty work, leaving behind trails of brutal violence, rape and war crimes.
Prigozhin long denied any affiliation with the group until September 2022, when he admitted to founding the mercenary force.
He is often seen on the frontlines of the conflict with Ukraine, criticising Russian military leadership and accusing them of starving Wagner troops of supplies.
Prigozhin on several occasions accused Moscow’s army units of desertion and retreat, leaving Wagner men exposed in key pinch points.
Yesterday, the Wagner chief unleashed an explosive tirade of abuse at Vladimir Putin’s cronies after Moscow was attacked yesterday morning by suspected Ukrainian kamikaze drones.
In a furious 70-second rant, Prigozhin screamed vulgar insults at Russia’s defence whom he described as ‘smelly scumbags’ and ‘b*******’.
The Wagner boss said he was ‘deeply outraged’ by Putin’s troops doing ‘f*** all’ to prevent explosive drones falling on the Russian capital this morning. Shortly after, Putin claimed that Moscow’s air defence system worked ‘satisfactorily’.
Known for his foul-mouthed rants, Prigozhin, who handed Bakhmut over to Russia’s army last week, was translated as shouting: ‘Smelly scumbags! What are you doing? Get your a**** up from the offices you’ve been put in to protect this country.
‘You are the Ministry of Defence. You’ve done f*** all in order to advance. Why the f*** are you allowing these drones to fly to Moscow? Who gives a s*** that they are flying to your homes on Rublyovka! Let your houses burn.’
‘And what should ordinary people do when drones with explosives crash into their windows? So as a citizen, I am deeply outraged that these scum sit quietly with their fat a**** smeared with expensive creams.
‘And that’s why I think the people have every right to ask them these questions, these b*******.
‘But I have already warned about this many times, but no one wants to listen. Because I’m angry and I upset bureaucrats who have a great life.’
His astonishing meltdown comes after several buildings in the wealthy suburbs of Moscow were damaged by suspected Ukrainian kamikaze drones, just hours after Putin unleashed yet another volley of strikes on Kyiv.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, Kyiv indicated that its forces were ready to launch a long-promised counteroffensive to recapture territory taken by Russia in the 15 months of the war.
‘Throughout its history, Kyiv has seen various meanness from invaders. It has survived them all, and it will survive the (Russians),’ Zelenskiy said on Sunday.