Wagner Group boss dismisses Russian military’s claims of heavy Ukraine losses

Tensions have escalated between the Wagner Group and the Russian military, as disagreements over recent events in Ukraine’s Donbas region intensify. Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner Group, dismissed Russia’s claims of inflicting significant losses on Ukraine during an attempted offensive action, labelling them as “wild and absurd science fiction.” Despite this, Russia’s defence ministry reiterated on Tuesday that Ukraine had suffered over 3,700 casualties during the conflict.

According to Russia, the attack was part of a “long-promised offensive” by Ukraine in the Donetsk region, which occurred over the weekend. However, Ukraine’s military stated on Monday that it had no information about a major attack in the area and refused to comment on what it called “fake” claims. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu insisted that his forces had caused over 3,715 casualties to Ukraine and destroyed numerous military equipment pieces during the attack. He praised the “courage and heroism” of Russian troops, acknowledging that 71 had died in the fighting.

Prigozhin quickly criticised the defence ministry’s claims on Monday evening, arguing that the alleged success would equate to a “massacre.” He wrote on Telegram, “Therefore, I think that these are just some wild fantasies.” Prigozhin also accused Russian forces of “slowly” retreating from the village of Berkhivka, near Bakhmut, labelling it a “disgrace.” Moscow dismissed Prigozhin’s allegations on Tuesday, stating they “did not correspond to reality” and asserting that the suburb remained under Moscow’s control.

Officials in Kyiv have acknowledged the shift to “offensive actions” in some parts of the country. On Tuesday, a US official informed CBS News that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is in its initial stages, but the main thrust has yet to begin. Kyiv’s Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar confirmed on Monday that some offensive operations had started around the eastern city of Bakhmut, which she referred to as the “epicentre of hostilities.”

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In a video address late on Monday, President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed gratitude to Ukrainian fighters for delivering “the news we are expecting” in the Bakhmut region. The city has been at the centre of intense fighting for months, holding symbolic importance for both Kyiv and Moscow.

Prigozhin’s fighters played a significant role in the battle for Bakhmut, and he frequently criticised Russian officials for their perceived lack of front-line support. However, at the end of May, he announced that his forces were withdrawing from the city to transfer control to the Russian army. Prigozhin is thought to harbour his own political ambitions, and his forces’ objectives have occasionally diverged from the military’s, resulting in friction between the factions. On Monday, the paramilitary group reported detaining a regular Russian army officer who allegedly fired upon a Wagner vehicle in Ukraine. In a video released by the group, the officer claimed that the incident occurred while he was intoxicated and that he had opened fire due to his dislike for Wagner.

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Lilly Larkin

Lilly is a writer with a diverse international background, having lived in various countries including Thailand. Her unique experiences provide valuable insights and culturally sensitive perspectives in her news reporting. When not writing, Lilly enjoys exploring local art scenes, volunteering for community projects, and connecting with people from different cultures.

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