Wagner talks with Russian troops retreating near Bakhmut, Ukraine

  • Wagner says Russian regulars will abandon city flank
  • Kiev says Wagner mercenaries fell into Bahmut’s ‘mousetrap’
  • Russia acknowledges partial withdrawal, denies collapse
  • Ukraine: Most missiles shot down in recent Russian airstrikes

Near Bakhmut, Ukraine, May 18 (Reuters) – Both the Ukrainian army and the Russian Wagner Private Army on Thursday attacked Russia near the city of Bakhmut as Kiev continues its biggest advance in six months ahead of a planned counteroffensive. He reported that he was withdrawing.

Ukrainian forces near the front announced that Russia was shelling access roads to delay Ukrainian offensives, but months of Russian forces in Europe’s deadliest ground battle since World War II. After a slow advance, the Russian momentum changed.

“Now that we’ve started our advance, most of the time they’re shelling the entire route to their forward positions, so our armored vehicles can’t carry any more infantry, ammunition, or anything else,” he said. Ukrainian military commander Petro Podar said. artillery unit.

The Ukrainian military said troops had advanced more than a mile in some places. The Russians held out for half a year, weathering a massive Moscow offensive that saw only slow progress.

“Despite the fact that our troops had no equipment or manpower advantage, they continued to advance from the flanks, covering a distance of 150 to 1,700 meters (1.1 miles),” said military spokesman Serhiy Cherevaty. Stated. TV comments.

Ukraine’s victory has deepened national divisions within the Russian military between Wagner, who led Operation Bakhmut, and the Russian regular army.

The blasted ruins of Bakhmut, described by both sides as a “meat grinder”, would be Moscow’s only prize for a major winter offensive that failed elsewhere on the front.

Kiev said it had launched a localized advance around Bakhmut as a prelude to an upcoming major counteroffensive that it hoped would turn the tide against a 15-month long Russian invasion.

Wagner boss Evgeny Prigozhin said troops in Bakhmut were still advancing and were on the verge of driving Ukrainian forces out of their last stronghold in the city’s western outskirts.

But he accused Russian regular army commanders of abandoning land to the north and south of the city, increasing the risk of encirclement of troops inside.

“Unfortunately, Russian Defense Ministry forces retreated up to 570 meters (1,880 feet) north of Bakhmut, exposing our flank,” Prigozhin said in an updated voice message on Thursday.

Prigozhin told Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov that he had made a public appeal to the top leadership of the Ministry of Defense because his letter had not been read.

“Don’t give up your sides.”

The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed a partial withdrawal from its positions near Bakhmut over the past week, but has denied Prigozhin’s allegations that the flank was crumbling or that it was withholding ammunition from Wagner. there is

Falling in a “mousetrap”

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Marial said Russia Reserves pushed Bahmut was breached, and fighting continued throughout the day in its northern and southern outskirts. However, the Russian forces were repulsed and she estimated they had advanced about a kilometer in some areas.

“We buy time for certain planned actions,” Marial said on his Telegram channel. Reuters was unable to verify her account.

Kiev said its tactic around Bakhmut is to draw Russian forces into the city to weaken Russian frontline defenses elsewhere ahead of Kiev’s planned counteroffensive.

“The Wagner army climbed Bakhmut like rats in a mousetrap,” Ukrainian Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Shirskyi told troops of the Bakhmut Front in a video released on social media this week.

“Using the principle of active defense, we are resorting to counterattack actions in some directions near Bakhmut. The enemy has more resources, but we are destroying his plans. ”

Russia resumed missile and drone strikes across Ukraine this month after a lull of about two months as a Kiev counterattack loomed. Waves of attacks now occur several times a week, at the most intense pace of the war.

On Thursday, air raid sirens sounded overnight, black smoke billowed over Kiev, and one person was reported dead in the southern city of Odessa.Ukraine Said 29 out of 30 incoming missiles were shot down. Moscow claimed to have hit a military target.

Russia has also experienced attacks and explosions in both its-controlled Ukrainian territory and Russian territory near its border. Authorities in Russian-occupied Crimea reported that a freight train had collided. derailed Overnight by “interference”. Kiev has not acknowledged any role in the incident there.

On the diplomatic front, the G7 leaders of major industrialized nations are meeting in Japan and are expected to announce tougher measures to block any opportunity for Russia to evade financial sanctions.

Joe US President Biden and Japan’s Fumio Kishida They met to meet in Hiroshima, aiming for closer cooperation in the face of both an unpredictable Russia and a rising China.

A U.S. Senate aide and a defense official said Thursday that the Pentagon said: overrated The equipment sent by the United States to Ukraine is a difference of about $3 billion, a mistake that could lead to more weapons being sent to Kiev.

On Wednesday, Moscow agreed to a two-month extension to a deal protecting Ukrainian grain exports from Black Sea ports despite the war. Russia has threatened to scrap the deal unless it receives additional guarantees to protect its grain and fertilizer exports.

But Ukrainian officials said the corridor had not yet been reopened, and Russia said more progress was needed to advance their interests.

By Peter Graff.Editing: Mark Heinrich

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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