Russia’s shadow army chief appears to be warning the Russian public to temper their expectations for a takeover of Bakhmut after taunting Ukrainian leaders just days earlier about the “pincers closing in” on the embattled city.
In a statement through his press service Tuesday, Yevgeny Prigozhin admitted that Russian troops still had up to 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers to fight for control of the city.
“It is very difficult to kill 12-20 thousand Ukrainian soldiers by tomorrow morning,” he said, after a question about what would happen once Bakhmut is “cleared” of Ukrainians.
“I have a huge request for all highly esteemed journalists. Let’s stop putting the cart before the horse and saying we took Bakhmut, and what will come afterwards,” he said.
“Believe me, we are doing everything we can for this, although we are still not being given ammunition, military equipment, weapons, and vehicles,” he said.
“As for Bakhmut, there are fierce battles underway day and night, but the Ukrainians aren’t running away anywhere… They have ammunition and weapons up the wazoo, a shitload,” he said.
“Once again, attention! Ukrainians are not running away. They are dying en masse for Bakhmut and surrender only as a last resort. Stop calling them cowards. They are the same as us, and the same blood flows in them.”
Prigozhin’s comments came as NATO officials said Russia has already lost five times as many troops in Bakhmut as Ukraine, according to CNN.
The Institute for the Study of War also said Russia’s military was in a precarious situation: “The Russian military will likely struggle to maintain any subsequent offensive operations for some months, giving Ukraine a chance to seize the initiative.”