Once a secretive mercenary leader, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin now operates openly, posting messages from inside Ukraine as part of Russia's invasion force


  • Prigozhin refuted claims that Ukrainian forces have retreated from Bakhmut
  • Earlier this week, he claimed his fighters have raised the Russian flag in the city center
  • The Ukrainian President also hinted at possibly calling his forces to retreat from the city

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Russia's infamous Wagner private military company (PMC) and a known ally of President Vladimir Putin, on Thursday admitted that Ukrainian forces are continuing to hold out against Moscow's attacks in Bakhmut, the bitterly contested city in Donetsk Oblast.

In a Telegram post, Prigozhin refuted claims that Ukrainian forces have retreated from Bakhmut, saying instead that Ukrainians "have organized defense inside the city" and that they are "not going anywhere."

"It must be said clearly that the enemy is not going anywhere. They organized defense inside the city, first by rail, then in the area of high-rise buildings in the western quarter of the city," he said, as translated via Google Translate. "Therefore, for the time being, I think there is no talk of any offensive."

He also appeared to call out Russia's Ministry of Defense and the country's military again, saying they need better organization and more ammunition to successfully make advances in Bakhmut and possibly push Ukrainian forces out of the city. Prigozhin previously accused the Russian military of refusing to supply the Wagner group with ammunition to use in the war in Ukraine.

"In order for us to have positive dynamics, several issues need to be resolved. The first question is to make sure that our flanks are well protected (I put a big exclamation point). The second is to make sure that we have a well-organized command. I haven't seen Surovikin for a long time, I don't know what he's doing. And third, it's ammunition (another exclamation point)," he said. "When we solve all these three questions, then we can go anywhere."

Prigozhin comments come as a surprise, especially after he claimed that his fighters have raised Russia's flag in the center of Bakhmut. This was also hinted at by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in his speech Wednesday. He signaled that Ukrainian forces might eventually retreat from the city.

"For me, the most important issue is our military," Zelensky said at a news conference during a state visit to Poland. "And certainly, if there is a moment of even hotter events and the danger that we may lose personnel due to the encirclement, there will certainly be corresponding correct decisions of the general on the ground."

Bakhmut has been the focus of some of the most intense fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces over the past 10 months.

Ukrainian servicemen ride on an infantry fighting vehicle near the battleground city of Bakhmut on April 3, 2023