The head of the Wagner Group military contractor organisation Yevgeny Prigozhin in May 3 announced that Ukrainian forces had begun their long anticipated major offensive against Russian positions, warning that his militias faced a highly disadvantageous balance of forces. “Ammunition shortages are acute,” he warned, and while his troops had enough rounds “for just a few days,” Ukrainian forces had “unlimited” manpower and munitions stocks. Wagner forces have played a significant role across several key frontiers in Eastern Ukraine, while the Russian Army itself appears to be preparing for an offensive of its own relying on the contractors to hold the line until then. Prigozhin’s warnings came despite major concerns being raised recently by both Ukrainian and Western sources that the Ukrainian Army was not in a strong position to launch an offensive.
The situation facing Ukrainian forces on the ground was exacerbated over the past week by major Russian strikes on key ammunition depots across much of the country, destroying hundreds of tons of munitions including key assets such as S-300 missile systems. It has repeatedly speculated that the Wagner chief has exaggerated his forces’ supply issues to press Moscow for further support and war materials – which are reportedly being reserved primarily to re equip the Russian Army itself. U.S. government sources have also claimed that the Wagner group has benefitted from arms supplies from North Korea, which retains massive reserves of munitions particularly for artillery systems which even before the war were thought to significantly surpass Russia’s own. Facing growing scrutiny for the large sums spent on arming Ukraine, American lawmakers have indicated that the future of aid to the Eastern European country could depend heavily on its success in achieving tangible objectives in its new offensives, the outcome of which remains highly uncertain.