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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Wagner’s Prigozhin Hints at Major Bakhmut Breakthrough With Music Video

A new video of Wagner Group fighters in Bakhmut may indicate a shift in control of the town on the frontline of the war in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the paramilitary Wagner Group, shared a video set to music showing Wagner fighters “fooling around” in the frontline city of Bakhmut.

“They shoot homegrown clips,” he said in a Telegram post. “This morning we brought it from Bakhmut, almost the center of the city.”

The video was reportedly filmed in the Donetsk oblast city of Bakhmut, which has been the site of the most intense fighting in recent weeks.

Russian forces, with the help of Wagner fighters, have been pushing troops into the region since July in an attempt to capture it. Taking control of this small industrial city is part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated war goals. He has said his “special military operation” aims to capture the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, known collectively as the Donbas.

In the video, four Wagner fighters in uniform stand on the roof of a partially destroyed building among other buildings in ruin while one man waves a Wagner flag. The other three are playing musical instruments, including guitars and what appears to be a trumpet.

This video may indicate that the fighting in the area is favoring Russian and Wagner forces.

Earlier this week, US Lieutenant General Douglas Sims II, director for operations at the Joint Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee that the current situation in Bakhmut is “static” with both sides employing heavy amounts of artillery resulting in “minimal changes in territory ” and “significant numbers of casualties.”

In an audio message played on CNN Wednesday, Prigozhin said Ukrainian forces are fighting “fiercely” in Bakhmut and that the Ukrainian Army is “throwing extra reserves into Bakhmut” and trying to hold it “with all their strength.”

“Tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are fiercely repelling attacks. Bloodshed increases every day,” Prigozhin said in the clip.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said Thursday that Russian forces are “storming the city of Bakhmut” as Ukrainian forces are fighting back attacks in and around the town.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, Russian forces are making advances within Bakhmut in their effort to capture the entire Donetsk Oblast.

Geolocated footage posted on March 1 confirms that Russian forces made advances on the southern outskirts of Bakhmut, ISW reported. They also cited a Russian blogger who claims that Wagner Group fighters have consolidated control of the outskirts of Yahidn and are moving southwest towards Khromove.

While Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently said “the most difficult situation” is still Bakhmut, one of his advisors said Ukrainian forces are willing to withdraw from the town if necessary.

Alexander Rodnyansky, an economic adviser to Zelensky, recently told CNN that the Ukrainian military has the option to withdraw from Bakhmut. Russia and the Wagner fighters are encircling the town.

“Our military is obviously going to weigh all of the options. So far, they’ve held the city, but if need be, they will strategically pull back,” Rodnyansky said. “We’re not going to sacrifice all of our people just for nothing.”

If Ukrainian forces pull out, Rodnyansky said that would not mean Russian forces would be able to take Bakhmut quickly.

ISW previously assessed that the Ukrainian defense of Bakhmut is a “strategically sound operation” that will continue to force Russian troops to expend manpower and equipment on costly assaults.

latestpagenews reached out to Zelensky’s office and the Russian defense ministry for comment.

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