The head of the Wagner Group private military company (PMC) Evgeny Prigozhin has described Ukraine’s losses in the battle for the city of Artryomovsk as almost fatal to Kiev’s entire military. The sacrifices made by his force for the sake of Russia were worth it, he added.
“As of today, the battle for Bakhmut has almost destroyed the Ukrainian army,” Prigozhin said in a statement on Wednesday, using the name by which Kiev calls the city. The clash also “gave a serious beating to PMC Wagner,” he acknowledged.
He called the battle the “general engagement” of the entire conflict and said that in it Wagner troops got pitted against Ukrainian armed forces and “foreign units installed into them.” A victory by his troops would be “a turning point” and a historic event, securing a Russian victory, Prigozhin predicted.
“The Russian army alone will be left on the chessboard, and all other pieces will be removed,” he forecast. “Even if PMC Wagner is destroyed in the Bakhmut meat grinder but takes the Ukrainian army with it … it would mean that we have accomplished our historic mission.”
The fight for Artyomovsk has emerged as one of the most intensive and bloody engagements of the armed conflict in Ukraine, with both sides reportedly suffering significant casualties. Western officials said that the city poses no strategic military value, but Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky pledged to defend it as long as possible after proclaiming the city a fortress.
The Ukrainian leader explained his refusal to withdraw in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this week. He claimed that if Russia were to capture Artyomovsk, his government would come under international and domestic pressure to seek peace with Moscow.
“Our society will feel tired,” he told the news agency of this scenario. “Our society will push me to have compromise with them.”