Russian Troops Quietly Replace Wagner Units

( — The Kremlin has replaced private military units with Russian troops in Ukraine. The replacement occurred quietly on the front line in the city of Bakhmut.

“In Bakhmut’s outskirts, the enemy has replaced Wagner units with regular army forces. Inside the city itself, Wagner fighters remain,” Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said.

A spokesperson for Ukraine’s Defense Ministry also said that the number of Russian attacks in the area had fallen.

The withdrawal of the private soldiers, hired by a company named Wagner, began on May 25th, and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, earlier announced that Russia had captured the area. However, Ukraine said the troops’ replacement signified that Russian forces were weakened and had suffered heavy losses. Prigozhin confirmed this and said that around 20,000 private troops were killed in the war’s bloodiest battle. The Kremlin said the number was closer to 6,000.

Wagner hired men, including ex-convicts, who had little military training. Yevgeny Prigozhin has been fiercely critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin for the slow supply of ammunition to his soldiers. He also mocked the President during the country’s scaled-back Victory Day Parade in May. In an online video, he asked how Russia expects to win the war if its “grandfather” turns out to be an “assh*le.” Russian officials have previously accused him of trying to undermine the authority of their leader.

Reports on the fierce battle of Bakhmut are difficult to confirm, but some media reports claim Russia lost around 100,000 soldiers and advanced only 60 feet per day. It took Russian forces more than 300 days to declare victory and capture the city that was home to 73,000. Bakhmut is only around 16 square miles, and British officials say it is of little strategic importance. However, a Russian claim of victory is a significant propaganda coup.

The number of Ukrainian troops lost is unknown, but NATO estimates around 20,000. The bloody conflict has been compared to World War One trench combat battles such as the Somme and Verdun.

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