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Chief of Russia’s Wagner says promised arms to continue fighting in Bakhmut

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Russian paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Sunday he had received “a promise” of more ammunition from the Russian army, after he threatened to pull his frontline Wagner troops out of Bakhmut.

“They promised to give us all the ammunition and armaments we need to continue the operations,” said Prigozhin, following his blistering attack on military chiefs over the situation in Bakhmut, the epicentre of Ukraine’s fight against Moscow’s forces.

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He said they had been assured “that everything necessary will be provided” to fighters around Bakhmut.

Prigozhin’s Wagner group has spearheaded the grinding, months-long Russian assault on Bakhmut, almost capturing the city in the longest and bloodiest battle of the campaign.

Prigozhin however threatened to leave his positions in Bakhmut on May 10 due to a lack of weapons, which he blamed on Russian army chiefs.

He warned that he would “pull out Wagner units from Bakhmut because in the absence of ammunition they are facing a senseless death.”

While Prigozhin had made similar threats to pull out in the past, the emotive language used in Friday’s video statement and the scathing personal criticism of the leaders of Russia’s campaign in Ukraine were unprecedented.

The rivalry between his private military group and the conventional army have come to the surface during the battle for Bakhmut.

On Sunday Prigozhin said that “all decisions” regarding Wagner’s operation would be taken by general Surovikin.

“He is the only decorated general that knows how to fight,” Prigozhin said.

Surovikin, an army veteran with a reputation for ruthlessness and who had been praised by Wagner, was named military commander in Ukraine in October.

Only three months later, he was replaced again by Valery Gerasimov, regularly criticized by Prigozhin.

Surovikin then became one of Gerasimov’s deputies.

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