Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut say fighting regular Russian troops will be 'not as hard' as fighting Wagner troops because they're inexperienced

Ukrainian soldiers ride on a BMP infantry fighting vehicle toward Bakhmut, on May 20, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian officials including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have asserted that Kyiv's forces are still active in Bakhmut and could stage a semi-encirclement on the flanks of the city.Photo by SERGEY SHESTAK/AFP via Getty Images
  • Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut say fighting regular Russian troops will be easier than Wagner forces.

  • Troops told The Washington Post that Wagner Group's "unorthodox strategies" were hard to deal with.

  • Fighting in Bakhmut has mostly stalled, with most Ukrainian forces settled in the city's outskirts.

Ukrainian soldiers in Bakhmut are hopeful that Wagner Group forces will be replaced by regular Russian troops, saying the latter are easier to fight because of youth and inexperience.

In an interview with The Washington Post, one drone operator identified as Chuck said Wagner troops use "unorthodox strategies" that make them difficult to predict, while regular Russian forces didn't have the same qualities.

"Fighting with regular Russian forces is not as hard as fighting with Wagner," he told the Post.

Ukrainian troops are bracing for a changing Russian presence in Bakhmut, as the Wagner Group's leader Yevgeny Prigozhin announced last week that his soldiers would withdraw after Russia claimed full control of the city.

By June 1, Prigozhin said, Wagner mercenaries would be fully replaced by regular Russian battalions.

"We hand over positions to the military: ammunition, positions — everything, including ration packs," Prigozhin said in a video, according to a translation from The Kyiv Independent.

A Ukranian commander in Bakhmut known as Chichen told The Washington Post he's looking forward to that switch.

"It's interesting because the Wagner guys were sitting back in their little bunkers not coming out," he said, the Post reported. "Whereas the Russians, they're young, they're fresh, they're new, and they basically just walk out. Then we give them hell."

Russia claimed victory over Bakhmut — which has seen some of the war's deadliest fighting — earlier this month. While it may be a meaningless victory, the intense combat has left Russian forces exhausted ahead of Ukraine's long-awaited counteroffensive.

Ukrainian troops told The Washington Post that most of their forces are located on the city's outskirts, and there's a potential plan for "semi-encirclement" of Bakhmut and even retake the city after the Wagner withdrawal.

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