Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov likely aim to frame the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and regular Russian troops as ineffective and set conditions to blame the MoD for any Russian setbacks in the Bakhmut area, analysts at the Institute for the Study of War state.
Source: an ISW report
Quote: "Prigozhin’s decision to hand responsibility for Bakhmut over to the forces of a fellow silovik [enforcer – ed.] deliberately excludes the conventional Russian airborne troops already operating on Wagner’s northern and southern flanks around Bakhmut.
This decision reflects Prigozhin’s ongoing distrust of the Russian military command, and postures himself as independent from the Russian military establishment and allows him to save face if Wagner forces cannot capture Bakhmut and avoiding a repeat of the capture of Soledar – where the Russian MoD took credit for what Prigozhin claimed was a Wagner success.
Kadyrov, in turn, could benefit from the positive reputational effect of entering such a high-profile operation with the backing of Prigozhin’s personal notoriety.
The switch from Wagner to Akhmat troops may also set conditions to blame the Russian MoD for future failures down the line — if Akhmat forces experience similar difficulties to Wagner and are unable to completely capture Bakhmut, Prigozhin and Kadyrov may feasibly blame the MoD for failing to adequately support their efforts." (Akhmat is the collective name fro Kadyrov's forces – ed.)
Details: On the other hand, the ISW states that if the Russian MoD prevents Akhmat forces from relieving Wagner (as it is unclear if Prigozhin and Kadyrov can execute this maneuver without any Russian MoD support as they claim), the two Russian warlords and their allies will likely brandish the hypothesis that if only the Russian MoD had supported the maneuver, Chechen forces would have captured Bakhmut quickly.
On 5 May, Yevgeny Prigozhin wrote a letter to the Russian Defence Ministry, stating that he would withdraw the Wagner PMC mercenaries from Bakhmut after 10 May.
He claimed that the reason for the move was that the Ministry of Defence did not give his fighters enough ammunition, and he did not want his people to be "doomed to a senseless death" because of this.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine are sceptical about the claim made by Prigozhin.
Later, Ramzan Kadyrov offered his help in the occupation of Bakhmut.