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Ukraine kills Wagner mercenaries who tried to retreat from Bakhmut

 June 1, 2023

The Ukrainian military reported that its forces had effectively neutralized a significant number of Russian Wagner mercenaries during their retreat from the conflict-ridden city of Bakhmut.

According to these reports, 80 Wagner combatants were killed, with an additional 119 sustaining injuries when Ukrainian troops targeted their positions during their withdrawal from the eastern city, as reported by the Daily Times

Decisive Blow to Wagner in Bakhmut

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner group, announced last week that his mercenary units were withdrawing from Bakhmut to be replaced by Russian paratroopers and motorized units. This announcement followed Prigozhin's acknowledgment of substantial losses among his troops, with an estimated 20,000 perishing in the protracted battle for the city.

Bakhmut has been a conflict zone for almost a year, resulting in significant devastation. A considerable number of Wagner mercenaries, who were at the forefront of the conflict, lost their lives. 

Serhiy Cherevatyi, the spokesman for the eastern contingent of Ukrainian forces, confirmed the neutralization of 80 Wagner combatants during their retreat.

Cherevatyi observed that the conflict had lessened recently, with only a handful of skirmishes taking place. As Wagner's troops withdraw, they are being replaced by airborne units and motorized infantry.

Shifting Battle Dynamics

According to Cherevatyi, the departure of Wagner troops from Bakhmut is adversely affecting the morale of the incoming units. He explained that witnessing the fate of the Wagner mercenaries had a "demoralizing effect" on these troops.

"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 stated.

He further noted that Ukraine's military was making strategic adjustments and repositioning to increase its effectiveness in countering enemy forces. After claiming full control over Bakhmut, Russia's Wagner private army began ceding positions to conventional troops this week.

Wagner Group's Heavy Casualties

Despite the retreat from Bakhmut, Prigozhin claimed that the Wagner Group had largely accomplished its mission of capturing the city from Ukrainian forces. However, Kyiv continues to resist, rejecting the idea that the city is entirely under enemy control.

The apparent success has come at a high cost. The Wagner Group has been scrutinized for deploying ruthless tactics reminiscent of World War I. This includes using inexperienced troops as cannon fodder under intense Ukrainian fire, with minimal training and insufficient support from the conventional Russian military. 

Prigozhin's Exasperation

Prigozhin has publicly criticized Moscow's military units for alleged desertion, which he claims has left Wagner troops vulnerable in key areas. His frustration was palpable in a recent tirade against Putin's administration following a suspected Ukrainian drone attack on Moscow.

In a blistering critique, Prigozhin castigated Russia's defense officials for their perceived failure to prevent the explosive drones from penetrating the Russian capital. His admonishment starkly contrasted with Putin's claim that Moscow's air defense system was functioning "adequately."

On Tuesday, reports surfaced that suspected Ukrainian kamikaze drones had inflicted damage on several structures in Moscow's affluent suburbs. This incident transpired mere hours after Putin approved a fresh series of strikes on Kyiv.

Addressing this situation, President Vladimir Putin depicted Ukraine's unprecedented drone assault on Moscow as a calculated attempt to instigate and frighten Russia. He further declared that steps would be taken to enhance the capital's air defense mechanisms to prevent future infiltrations, Reuters Reported.

Impending Ukrainian Counteroffensive

Concurrently, evidence suggests that Ukrainian forces are readying a much-anticipated counteroffensive to recapture territory occupied by Russian forces over the past 15 months. This tactical move would represent a considerable shift in the balance of the ongoing conflict.

Ukraine President Volodymr Zelenskyy, in a statement on Sunday, said, "Throughout its history, Kyiv has seen various meanness from invaders. It has survived them all, and it will survive the [Russians]."