(Moscow) The leader of the Russian private military group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigojine, declared on Sunday that his men, who fight in particular in Bakhmout (eastern Ukraine), lacked ammunition and warned that a Ukrainian counter-offensive could represent “ a tragedy” for Russia.
“We [Wagner] only have 10-15 percent of the ammunition we need,” Wagner’s boss pointed out in an interview with pro-Kremlin war correspondent Semyon Pegov.
Mr Prigozhin, who blamed senior Russian military officials for the shortages, said he expected a Ukrainian counteroffensive around mid-May. “This counter-offensive could become a tragedy for our country,” he warned.
The Wagner group was on the front line in the fighting around the city of Bakhmout.
Yevgeny Prigojine is in open conflict with the Russian military hierarchy, which he accuses of knowingly not delivering enough ammunition to his men and has publicly attacked Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on several occasions.
Ukraine claimed this week that its preparations for a counter-offensive were coming to an end.
On Sunday, the governor of the Russian region of Bryansk bordering Ukraine announced that a Ukrainian bombardment targeting a Russian village had left four dead and two injured.
The day before, a drone attack caused a fire at an oil depot in Sevastopol, the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, according to authorities on the peninsula annexed by Russia.
The Russian army announced on Sunday the appointment of a new head of military logistics, General Alexei Kuzmenkov, who replaces another high-ranking officer, General Mikhail Mizintsev, as Kyiv claims to have completed its preparations for a counteroffensive.
“General Alexei Kuzmenkov has been appointed Russian Deputy Defense Minister, responsible for the material and technical supply of the Russian Armed Forces,” the military said in a statement.
Until now, Mr. Kuzmenkov was deputy director of the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia), a post he had held since 2019, according to the statement.
Alexei Kuzmenkov thus replaces Mikhail Mizintsev, who was only appointed to this position last September.
Former head of the National Defense Control Center, Mr. Mizintsev, nicknamed by Western media “Butcher of Mariupol”, is targeted by Western sanctions for his role in the siege of Mariupol, a port city in the south-east of the country. Ukraine, devastated by the bombardments.
However, no official announcement of his dismissal has been made either by the Russian army or by the public media.
Russian logistics have often failed since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine launched in February 2022.
It was notably put to the test with President Vladimir Putin’s decision to mobilize several hundred thousand men last September, in an attempt to stem the setbacks suffered by the Russian army in the face of Ukrainian forces and the armament provided by Westerners.