British intelligence “deciphered” the reason for Wagner’s withdrawal from Bakhmut

The British military intelligence agency said that, after withdrawing from the Bakhmut firepan, the Russian private Wagner military force could be deployed to another front in Ukraine.

The head of the Russian private military corporation Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin said on May 25 that they have begun to withdraw units from Bakhmut. The intelligence agency of the British Ministry of Defense, citing information from Ukrainian officials, confirmed that Wagner had gradually withdrawn from Bakhmut and handed over his position to regular forces of the Russian army.

According to Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar, Wagner has handed over to Russia the position on the Bakhmut slopes but still maintains a part inside the city.

According to a British intelligence report, the forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic appear to have entered Bakhmut on May 24 to begin the operation to clear the way.

“Ukrainian troops have regained control of about 20 square kilometers on the edge of the city of Bakhmut as of May 16. The rotation of Wagner’s troops seems to be continuing in phases to avoid the collapse of the front line (of the Russian side). around Bakhmut”, the British Ministry of Defense report said.

According to the agency, despite tensions with the Russian military, Wagner forces are likely to be used for operations on other fronts in the Donbas once they complete their regrouping.

According to the plan, Wagner’s withdrawal process will last until June 1. Wagner’s units will rest and regroup after months of intense fighting.

Wagner is a key force in Russia’s campaign to control the strategic Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Last weekend, Mr. Prigozhin announced that Wagner was in full control of Bakhmut and that their units would continue to strengthen the city’s defenses until it was completely withdrawn.

Prigozhin admitted earlier this week that Wagner had lost more than 20,000 fighters in the battle in Bakhmut, half of which were prisoners recruited for the special military operation in Ukraine.

Bakhmut is the fiercest fighting front in many months. Kyiv’s tactic was to hold on, forcing Russia to put a lot of resources here, thereby weakening Moscow’s defenses elsewhere, enabling Kyiv’s counter-offensive. Russia has stated that its goal is to control the entire Donbas region in eastern Ukraine, using Bakhmut as a springboard to push further into cities like Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.

It is unclear how Wagner’s withdrawal from Bakhmut will affect Ukraine’s ability to pressure Ukraine inside and outside of Bakhmut.

Some Western and Ukrainian experts say that Russia has lost a large amount of manpower and that if Wagner withdraws or Moscow has to rotate more troops, Russia will be in a vulnerable position.

“We will probably see more local tactical attacks. Russia will mainly focus on defense and prepare for Ukraine’s counter-offensive,” said Rob Lee, a military analyst at the Institute of Military Studies. Foreign Policy study, comments on Russia’s next step in Ukraine.

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