As the US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” reports, Russian troops are currently rotating in the Kherson region. Accordingly, apparently war-weary mercenaries from the notorious Wagner Group would be replaced by “highly qualified” forces from the Russian army.
The soldiers of the paramilitary Wagner group, which is known to be very cruel, are apparently being replaced in Bakhmut by conventional forces from the Russian army. This is reported by the US think tank “Institute for the Study of War”.
According to the report, the head of the Ukrainian press center of the Tavrisk Directorate of Defense Forces, Colonel Yevhen Yerin, said that Russian armed forces were conducting troop rotations from the Kherson region.
In addition, Ukrainian authorities are investigating reports suggesting that Wagner mercenaries are instead being transferred to the southern front in the Zaporizhia region – while regular Russian soldiers are initially deployed in Bachmuth and Wuhledar.
In the battles for the two cities, “highly qualified” troops should now encircle and capture the cities. This was confirmed by the Ukrainian commander deployed in Bachmuth, Denys Yarolavskyi.
Ukrainian officials first reported the arrival of Wagner forces in eastern Kherson Oblast on January 15, coinciding with the culmination of the Wagner offensive in Donbass, the January 12 capture of Soledar.
Probably Russia now wants to exchange the war-weary Wagner mercenaries for more rested regular army forces. Another reason for the rotation could be that in this way the Russian Ministry of Defense could present the traditional armed forces as the sole victor over Bakhmut – assuming that the Russian troops actually take the city.
The Russian Defense Ministry and Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin have each made divergent claims about recent Russian successes around Soledar and Bakhmut after the capture of Soledar.
The Russian Ministry of Defense, for example, claimed that Russian forces took Blahodatne west of Soledar on January 31, while Prigozhin announced that Wagner troops had already captured the settlement on January 28.
Prigozhin is likely trying to compensate for the reduced combat capabilities of the Wagner troops and their reliance on conventional forces by claiming territorial gains before the MoD can claim them for conventional forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense, on the other hand, is probably aiming to undermine the influence of the Wagner group in Ukraine.