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Ukrainian troops versus Wagner’s mercenaries: how will the battle for Bakhmut end?

The number of prisoner recruits who can be sent to assault Bakhmut has dropped drastically, and the Russian Wagner Group is now using more of its professional fighters.

According to The New York Times, Ukrainian officials believe that by holding out long enough, Ukraine can inflict severe damage on Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s Wagner PMC.

Ukrainian troops will defend Bakhmut further on. Photo: NYT

Ukrainian troops will defend Bakhmut further on. Photo: NYT

Colonel Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesman for Ukraine’s eastern group of forces, commented on the condition of the Wagner Group in the battle for Bakhmut:

Quote"This is their last shot."

Almost all the prisoners who helped the Russian forces close in on the Ukrainian city have already been killed.

Earlier, The Page reported that Wagner’s founder, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, had publicly quarreled with the Russian defense ministry, complaining that he hadn’t been allowed to recruit new prisoners lately, which was critical for Russia’s success in Bakhmut.

Prigozhin called Russia’s military leadership woefully ineffective and even suggested that the destruction of Wagner’s "offensive potential" was intended by Russian officials.

Ukraine wants to deplete Wagner so that it won’t be a threat anymore. Photo: NYT

Ukraine wants to deplete Wagner so that it won’t be a threat anymore. Photo: NYT

This conflict even prompted Russia’s defense minister, Sergey Shoigu, to visit occupied Ukrainian territories and show that the Russian military leadership isn’t "detached from reality," like Prigozhin’s people say.

Some analysts now doubt that Ukraine should hold on to Bakhmut, while other military experts believe that if the Ukrainian forces can eliminate the Wagner Group here, they will not have to face it again elsewhere.

Ukrainians won’t withdraw from Bakhmut in the near future. Photo: NYT

Ukrainians won’t withdraw from Bakhmut in the near future. Photo: NYT

The Page previously reported, citing the ISW, that the number of combat-ready Russian convicts isn’t limitless, so Russia’s ability to recruit them can be exhausted. Moreover, the Ukrainian forces are also routing Wagner’s elite troops.

Ukrainian forces are already routing Wagner’s elite fighters as the supply of prisoners is dwindling. Photo: NYT

Ukrainian forces are already routing Wagner’s elite fighters as the supply of prisoners is dwindling. Photo: NYT

However, Prigozhin insists he has a similar goal near Bakhmut: not territorial gain but the depletion of experienced Ukrainian units. He believes it will help Russia be more effective in other regions and impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

The coming days will show which of these tactics succeed. Yet, given the conflict inside the Russian forces due to their inability to recruit more troops in prisons, they are not doing well.

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