The Russian mercenary Wagner Group again replenishes its personnel, receives ammunition and political support, as the Kremlin probably wants to capture Bakhmut before May 9, when Russia celebrates Victory Day commemorating the end of World War II, the Institute of War Studies (ISW) estimates.
The American think tank in the latest report expresses the assumption that Vladimir Putin “needs a victory in Bakhmut” before May 9, or before the annual teleconference with citizens, in order to “strengthen his authority inside the country.” According to unconfirmed reports, Putin’s teleconference would take place in June.
In this context, the ISW cites reports that Putin “stopped the efforts of the Russian Ministry of Defense to take revenge on the Wagner Group” by suspending the supply of ammunition and refusing to reinforce the mercenaries.
Everything indicates that Putin is again turning to the founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, after “another disappointment” with the regular army, which did not fully occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk regions in eastern Ukraine by the required deadline of April 1, the ISW estimates.
American experts point out that the Kremlin seems to be re-appointing high-ranking military figures associated with the Wagner Group , such as General Mikhail Tieplinski, to command positions.
If the reports about Tieplinski’s return are true, it is a suggestion that Putin’s “priority is to achieve a decisive victory in the near term, at least in Bakhmut,” the ISW concludes.
According to the assessments of the British Ministry of Defense, General Teplinski, the commander of the Russian airborne forces, has most likely returned to an important role in the war against Ukraine, from which he was dismissed in January this year.