Mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group outside a damaged building in Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine, April 10, 2023
I joined RTE Radio 1’s Claire Byrne on Tuesday to analyze latest developments in the Russian invasion of Ukraine and its repercussions in Moscow.
The discussion follows an interview with Ukrainian MP Sviatoslav Yurash.
I begin with an overview of Russia’s 11-month assault on Bakhmut in the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. I explain that the Russians may finally get a “Pyrrhic victory” at high cost and with little strategic significance.
The more important issue is whether Ukraine’s defiant resistance in the city has delayed its anticipated counter-offensive to liberate more territory and put further pressure on Vladimir Putin.
Then I consider the maneuvers of Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose Wagner Group mercenaries have been used for the “human wave” assaults on Bakhmut. I explain how Prigozhin is continuing to use the operations in a bid to defeat rivals in Moscow, including Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, and become Putin’s preferred advisor.
Prigozhin is positioning himself where, if Russia does advance in the east but instead faces further losses, he can take advantage.
He’ll say, “We fought valiantly for Russia. We were betrayed by others. You need to look to me a political and military leader to pick up the pieces.”