Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner GroupHe said that the Russian army attacked his forces on Friday.
“We were ready to make concessions to the Ministry of Defense and hand over our weapons,” Prigozhin said in an audio message released by his representatives. “Today, seeing that we were not broken, they launched missile strikes on our rear camps.”
The head of Wagner said that the “evil” of the Russian leadership must be stopped.
“Those who destroyed our sons, who ruined the lives of tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished. I ask that no one else resist,” Prigozhin said.
“There are 25,000 of us and we will find out why the country is in chaos,” he added.
Wagner’s boss said he was organizing a rally for “justice” in retaliation against the Russian military leadership, not a “coup”.
The alleged attack on Wagner’s forces came just hours after Prigozhin criticized Russia’s military leaders, saying they had cheated the president. Russian President Vladimir Putin launching an invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Defense Ministry denied Prigozhin’s claims of an attack, saying that Wagner’s chief’s claims “do not correspond to reality and are a media provocation”.
Prigozhin: The invasion of Ukraine was in the interest of the military leaders
In a video posted to Telegram earlier on Friday, Prigozhin made fiery remarks criticizing Russia’s rationale for starting attack on UkraineWhich started on February 24 last year.
Prigozhin claimed that the Russian Defense Ministry is “trying to deceive society and the president and tell us how crazy aggression from Ukraine was and that they were planning to attack us with the whole of NATO”.
Wagner’s boss referred to the Kremlin’s official justification for the war as a “beautiful novel”.
“The special operation started for a different reason,” Prigozhin said, referring to the Russian government’s preferred term for the invasion.
Prigozhin claimed that the attack on Ukraine was done so that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu could become marshals and receive military decorations. The rank of Marshal is the highest in the Russian military, with only one former defense minister having held the title so far.
Contrary to Moscow’s claims, Prigozhin also said that the war was not necessary to “disarm or discredit Ukraine”.
Putin said Russia’s attack on its neighbor was necessary to purge “Nazis” from the country’s leadership, in an effort to appeal to Russia’s historical pride in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II. However, the argument contradicts the fact of this Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky Jewish, as the Ukrainian leader lost his family to the Holocaust.
Wagner’s boss said the invasion was an attempt to obtain “material assets” for division among the Russian elites.
Chief Wagner refrains from criticizing Putin
Despite Prigozhin’s attacks on the Russian military leadership, he has never openly criticized Putin. Chief Wagner still relies on Putin’s support and maintains a close relationship with the president.
Some analysts say Prigozhin may be trying to win public approval amid setbacks in Ukraine.
“He pretends to be an enemy of the elites, even though he is a product of Putin’s regime, the embodiment of his system and state contracts,” Andrei Kolesnikov of the Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center told the Associated Press.
“Prigozhin plays an independent politician, raising the stakes and testing the limits of the system,” Kolesnikov added. “But this is technically possible only as long as Putin finds it useful and enjoys his adventures.”
Wagner’s boss has been referred to as “Putin’s chef” after he earlier ran a catering service that worked for the Kremlin. Prigozhin now maintains a file global impactwith Wagner mercenaries involved not only in Ukraine but also African countries Like Mali.
wd/rs (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)
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