ISW: Wagner boss rise in decline after failure to take Bakhmut

January 23, 2023

Private mercenary Wagner Group boss appears to be on the outs with the Kremlin after failing to make good on repeated promises of capturing Bakhmut in Donestk Oblast with his troops, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update

The Wagner Group is Russia’s most high-profile mercenary group and was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian oligarch, Putin confidant, and former convict. Along with the Russian military, the group has taken part in the battles for both Soledar and Bakhmut in eastern Donetsk Oblast. Wagner is known for its human rights abuses all over the world.

According to the D.C.-based think tank, “Russian dictator Vladimir Putin had likely turned to Prigozhin and Prigozhin’s reported ally, Army General Sergey Surovikin, to continue efforts to gain ground and break the will of Ukraine and its Western backers to continue the war after the conventional Russian military had culminated and, indeed, suffered disastrous setbacks.”

“Putin apparently decided to give Prigozhin and Surovikin a chance to show what they could do with mobilized prisoners on the one hand and a brutal air campaign targeting Ukrainian civilian infrastructure on the other. Both efforts failed, as Prigozhin’s attempts to seize Bakhmut culminated and Surovikin’s air campaign accomplished little more than inflicting suffering on Ukrainian civilians while expending most of Russia’s remaining stocks of precision missiles.”

Prigozhin was using reports of the mercenary group’s gains in and around Soledar in Donetsk Oblast as a way to promote the Wagner Group’s reputation as an effective fighting force, the ISW wrote in an earlier update

Any hopes that Prigozhin may have had to seriously challenge the Russian Ministry of Defense and General Staff, headed by Sergey Shoigu and Army General Valeriy Gerasimov, “now seem to have been delusional,” the ISW wrote. 

As a result of an offensive operation in January, Russian forces managed to break through Ukrainian defenses and take over Soledar. Russia hopes to use the gain to encircle the nearby Bakhmut, but as the ISW has previously assessed, gaining control of Soledar will not necessarily lead to Ukraine’s swift collapse in Bakhmut. 


  1. “Any hopes that Prigozhin may have had to seriously challenge the Russian Ministry of Defense and General Staff, headed by Sergey Shoigu and Army General Valeriy Gerasimov, “now seem to have been delusional,”

    That’s too bad. I want to see those two groups at each other’s throats!

  2. The bloodbath at Bakhmut/Soledar is down to a catastrophic failure of Ukraine’s allies to provide anything like sufficient help.
    Soldiers on the ground repeatedly stated that they were only able to lob back 1/20th of what was coming at them. Outnumbered and outgunned for months, they still inflicted significant losses on the orcs, but at terrible cost to themselves.
    Forced to use old Soviet tanks and old Soviet artillery, they did the best they could.
    Modern tanks, many more HIMARS, plus ATACM’s should have been in theatre last summer. Now only months or weeks away from another massive onslaught, the defenders still do not have enough.
    Puker will only stop when his commanders inform him that there is no pathway to victory and losses are running at 3000/day.
    It would also help if putler knew for sure that any use of nukes would trigger a US response, plus a response from Ukraine’s independent nuclear deterrent.

    • Indeed, scradge, I know what costs Ukraine is paying in Bakhmut and Soledar. The sad thing is, so do the pussies in Washington, Berlin and Paris.

  3. An Oligarch is defined as One who uses his wealth for political power or manipulation.
    Prigozhin’s most lucrative source of wealth is through his “Wagner” control of Central African Republic wealth.

    He remains useful to Kremlin for that “constant hybrid war” purpose.
    Since his home base was St Petersburg his attempt at offensive manipulation & ousting of its Mayor , reflects another financial base.

    His rhetoric doesn’t really differ from Russian political norm.
    You would be surprised at Russian practices to get ahead. While you surely understood Foreign Assassination Bureau GRU ‘s Unit 29155, you may be unaware of such (time-“honored?”) social norms as use of hydrochloric or sulfuric acid in the face, to end disagreement in organizations we would regard as civilized.

What is your opinion?