Chechen units should relieve the Wagner forces in the battle for the fiercely contested Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, the head of the Russian paramilitary group urged Moscow on Saturday.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin called for the Akhmat battalion, led by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, to take over the Bakhmut positions by midnight on May 10, in a letter to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu dated Saturday and posted on Telegram.
Prigozhin has threatened to pull the mercenary force out of Bakhmut amid a striking breakdown in relations between the Russian government and the paramilitary group. In a statement published Friday, Wagner commanders said Russian defense ministry units were supposed to back up the Wagner group’s flanks, but were struggling to do so.
The commanders accused the Kremlin of artificially creating supply shortages and mass casualties. Prigozhin himself posted a video ranting from the front lines about fallen fighters.
Kadyrov had offered to take over the position on Friday, according to AFP. Prigozhin replied on Saturday, saying the Akhmat battalion would “no doubt” take Bakhmut.