Russian Wagner chief Prigozhin attributes a high death to a lack of ammunition

Prior to the Russian military's announcement, Prigozhin (C) claimed last month to have taken the Ukrainian town of...

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of a Russian mercenary group, posted a picture of one of his dead soldiers in Ukraine, blaming the army generals for their deaths and appealing to regular Russians for assistance.

Prigozhin already went on the offensive on Tuesday, accusing the chief of staff and the defense minister of trying to kill his Wagner mercenaries by denying them ammunition.

The siege of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine has involved Wagnerites to a significant degree.

The claims were refuted by the defense ministry.

Without mentioning either Prigozhin or the Wagner group, it declared that "all allegations of shell shortages made by assault units are categorically false.".

The ministry listed 1,660 rockets, 10,171 mortar rounds and artillery rounds, and 980 tank rounds that had been supplied between Saturday, February 18, and the following Monday, describing the arming of mercenary groups as a priority.

Since the war in Ukraine has sparked an even more acrimonious rivalry between the mercenaries and the regular army, analysts believe that Prigozhin, who founded Wagner, no longer has the ear of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

While it is alleged that organizations like Wagner are illegal in Russia, Prigozhin has not only registered it as a business but was also caught on camera last year openly recruiting for the war from Russian prisons.

Wagner declared victory in the eastern town of Soledar last month, but the defense ministry later claimed control of the area.

Since it has been ongoing for more than six months, the battle for Bakhmut has taken center stage in Russia's eastern offensive. Thousands of lives are thought to have been lost during the campaign.

Never one to hold back, Prigozhin complained that Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, and Sergei Shoigu, the minister of defense, not only stopped ammunition from being sent, but also failed to assist with air transport or even provide shovels for trench digging.

He claimed that such overt military opposition to arming his fighters amounted to treason.

He responded angrily to the ministry's denial of his claims by accusing it of "spitting" at Wagner and claiming that only 80% of the ammunition needed to complete its combat missions had been provided.

Then, he shared a photo that appeared to have been taken in the Bakhmut region, showing dozens of mercenaries' dead bodies waiting to be collected as they lay on the frozen ground.

"These are the men who lost their lives yesterday as a result of alleged "shell shortages. In an audio message to his press service, he claimed that there were five times as many of them as there ought to have been.

He urged Russians to publicly demand, but without organizing protests, that the defense ministry arm his troops.

Commentators have questioned whether Gen Gerasimov, who was recently given command of the campaign, is forcing Prigozhin out due to the obvious power struggle at the center of Russia's war in Ukraine.

Russians who supported the war were unmistakably supporting Prigozhin, according to pro-Kremlin pundit Sergei Markov, and the dispute would weaken the authority of the defense ministry.

If ammunition was being withheld, along with the rotation of Wagner troops away from Bakhmut, according to Russia expert Mark Galeotti, "it sets [the] scene for regulars to deliver Putin his first victory (however meaningless) for some time.".

In his audio message, Prigozhin vowed that "We will not leave Bakhmut.". The Wagnerites will simply continue to perish in greater numbers until they are all exterminated. And Shoigu and Gerasimov will likely need to acquire machine guns once the Wagnerites have finished.

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