Putin Cancels Victory Day Celebration As Wagner Quits Bakhmut
Russia President, Vladimir Putin has cancelled national plans for Victory Day celebration after the Moscow main mercenary group, Wagner announced plans on Friday to quit the war front and withdraw his men from Bakhmut.
Ten News First media report indicated that President Vladimir Putin cancelled the Victory Day celebration expected to take place on May 9, a day of World War Two commemoration, due to security reasons. This, as drones attack attempted to take down the Kremlin earlier in the week.
This may not also be far from the fact that Russia’s main mercenary group, Wagner, announced plans on Friday to withdraw from the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which Ukraine said the fighters were reinforcing positions to try to seize it before Russia marks World War Two Victory Day next week.
It would be recalled that Russia had announced it will close Moscow’s Red Square to the public for two weeks ahead of the Victory Day parade on May 9.
Russian officials had earlier also cancelled the Immortal Regiment march, citing apparent security threats. The decision to close the Red Square comes after Kursk and Belgorod decided not to hold the parades this year.
Moscow-annexed Crimea has also called off their Victory Day parades due to “security concerns.” The Kremlin has been promoting Victory Day celebrations to foster patriotism and rally support for the Russian military.
Russia has been on high alert amid cross-border attacks from Ukraine since the invasion began on February 24, 2022.
Wagner Group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin said his men had been starved of ammunition and would expect the army to take their place in Bakhmut next Wednesday, and thus, jeopardized what has long been Russia’s main target in its attempt to carve up its neighbor.
“My lads will not suffer useless and unjustified losses in Bakhmut without ammunition,” Prigozhin said in a video accompanying a written withdrawal announcement addressed to military leaders including President Vladimir Putin.
Prigozhin said “bureaucrats” had held back supplies despite knowing that Wagner’s target date to capture the city was May 9, the day of the World War Two commemoration.
Prigozhin in the video was surrounded by corpses he said were his men, shouting abuse at Defence Minister, Shoigu and Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov.
Prigozhin said Shoigu and Gerasimov must bear responsibility for “tens of thousands of Wagner dead and injured”.
Prigozhin’s decision to pull out of Bakhmut, showed the pressure; Russian forces are currently under, as Ukraine makes the final preparations for a counter-offensive actions backed by thousands of Western-donated armored vehicles and freshly trained troops.
Ukraine’s Armed Forces General Staff said in an evening report that Ukrainian forces repelled more than 30 attacks on the main sectors of the front line on Friday, with Bakhmut and Maryinka to the south seeing the heaviest fighting.
The Russia’s Wagner Group said it will pull out its forces from Bakhmut on 10 May and hand over positions to the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov’s troops.
“Kadyrov most likely can obtain all the necessary resources to take up Wagner’s positions in Bakhmut”, Prigozhin said, implying the alleged shortage of ammunition that Wagner Group has experienced recently during its offensive operations in Donetsk Oblast.
According to Prigozhin, only “a little more than two square kilometers” of Bakhmut are allegedly under the control of Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
Prigozhin in a video statement on Friday said that the Russian Ministry of Defense refused to provide them with enough artillery shells and gave only 10% of the needed amount.
He also accused Russian military leadership of wanting to appropriate territorial gains in Bakhmut, thus artificially depriving the Wagner Group of shells. Therefore, Prigozhin warned that his units would withdraw from the frontline for recovery until they received a regular supply of ammunition.
The Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, reacted to Prigozhin’s ultimatum on the same day and assured in a video address that his troops would be ready to replace Wagner mercenaries in Bakhmut with no delay.
Ukraine’s Eastern Group of Forces spox, Serhiy Cherevatyi, said that the Wagner Group was running out of fighters, not shells.
According to Cherevatyi, Russians are still trying to occupy the city of Bakhmut entirely by 9 May 2023. The Russian forces have failed to capture Bakhmut since August 2022.