Wagner Group’s Big Bet On Putin May Pay Off

The head of the Wagner paramilitary group on Saturday urged the Kremlin to replace his forces in Bakhmut with Chechen units after weeks of brutal and bloody fighting, Politico reported.

In a letter to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin asked for the Chechen Akhmat battalion, led by Ramzan Kadyrov, to relieve his paramilitary forces in Bakhmut by midnight on May 10.

Prigozhin previously threatened to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut over accusations that Russia is not providing them with the supplies they need to continue the fight.

In a statement on Friday, commanders with the Wagner Group said Russian forces were supposed to defend the paramilitary group’s flanks in the area but have been struggling to do it. The commanders also accused the Kremlin of deliberately creating shortages in supplies leading to mass casualties in Bakhmut.

It was reported on Friday that Chechen commander Kadyrov offered to take over Wagner’s positions around Bakhmut. The following day, Prigozhin endorsed the offer, saying Kadyrov’s Akhmat battalion would “no doubt” take the city.

Meanwhile, late Sunday night, Russia launched a mass drone attack on Kyiv, with nearly three dozen drones attacking the capital during the night.

The New York Times reported that Ukraine’s military said it shot down all 35 drones during the overnight attack, including the 30 that flew over the capital.

The assault, which began just after midnight Sunday night, lasted for nearly four hours. As Ukraine’s air defense teams targeted the drones with anti-aircraft guns, Kyiv residents sought safety in bomb shelters, bathrooms, and hallways until receiving the all-clear.

Sunday night’s drone attack was part of a wider offensive with Russia also firing 16 missiles at Kharkiv, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and Odesa, according to a statement from the Ukrainian military.

A warehouse housing humanitarian aid from the Ukrainian Red Cross in Odesa was destroyed. The Red Cross said it would have to suspend some of its work in the area.