According to security expert Christian Mölling, a failure of the Wagner mercenaries would significantly increase the chances of the Ukrainian army at Bachmut. Mölling said on Friday in the stern podcast "Ukraine – the situation": "If the Wagner people have to or want to withdraw due to the political dynamics in Moscow, then that surprisingly changes the situation for the Ukrainians and makes an offensive more promising." He had doubts whether regular Russian troops could replace the Wagner people and have the same fighting power as the mercenaries.
"Can one replace the brutality of the Wagner troops?" asked the research director of the German Society for Foreign Relations. The Ukrainians could be very successful in Bakhmut and other sectors of the front in the coming weeks.
However, it is also possible that the head of the Wagner mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is only threatening to withdraw his fighters in order to put pressure on the Russian leadership. Prigozhin had repeatedly complained that he was not getting enough ammunition. According to media reports, he is now planning to withdraw from the front in eastern Ukraine.
Mölling related statements by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about possible territorial concessions by Ukraine in the event of a peace agreement to the domestic political debate in the US. He said the "period of political support may eventually become more difficult".
It is conceivable that the Republicans will address support for Ukraine in the upcoming presidential election campaign. This could have consequences for the course of the war in Ukraine. "We may have to come to an end sooner," Mölling said. This could be the case before all of Ukraine's war aims have been achieved.
The expert reminded that at the beginning of the war - that is, before the Russian war crimes in Bucha and Irpin became known - the Ukrainian leadership was ready to embark on a very long procedure on the future status of Crimea. "Then the question is: Can you go back there," says Mölling. In view of the risks of war, it is important to have as many options for action as possible that lead close to the desired result. That also applies to the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj: "He will not have a single goal in mind."