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 threatened to withdraw from Bakhmut if Russia fails to issue the ammunition he requested
  • The Wagner head said Shoigu only had a day to respond to his threat
  • The group is reportedly being given only 800 shells per day instead of the 4,000 it requested

The head of Russia's infamous Wagner private military company (PMC) has threatened to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut and abandon the war in Ukraine if the Russian military fails to give them more ammunition to use in combat.

Wagner head and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin Yevgeny Prigozhin issued the threat during an interview with Russian military blogger Semyon Pegov which was published Saturday.

"I am appealing to Sergei Shoigu with a request to issue ammunition immediately. Now if this is refused, I deem it necessary to inform the commander-in-chief about the existing problems, and to make a decision regarding the feasibility of continuing to station units in the settlement of Bakhmut, given the current shortage of ammunition," he said, as translated by CNN.

In addition to his pointed threats toward Shoigu and Russia's war effort, Prigozhin said his group has been daily recovering "thousands" of bodies of Wagner's fighters.

"Every day, we have stacks of thousands of bodies that we put in coffins and send home," he said, per translations from Al Jazeera. "If the ammunition deficit is not replenished, we are forced – in order not to run like cowardly rats afterward – to either withdraw or die."

Prigozhin gave Shoigu April 27 as the deadline to respond to his plea, according to subtitles of a video which was shared by an advisor to Ukraine's internal affairs minister Anton Gerashchenko on Twitter. It is unclear if Shoigu issued a response.

Prigozhin, whose troops have played a key role in Russia's attempts to take over the Ukrainian territory of Bakhmut, has often clashed with the Russian military since the war began in February last year.

The Wagner group had previously accused the Russian Defense Ministry of starving his troops of ammunition. Prigozhin said he was being given only 800 shells per day instead of the 4,000 he requested for his group, per The Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Ukraine was believed to have killed at least 30,000 Wagner mercenaries in the battle for Bakhmut as of March.

Ukrainian service members prepare fire a howitzer D30 at a front line near the city of Bakhmut