Conflicts & War

Wagner Group chief in heated spat with Russian military officials

Moscow, Feb 22 (EFE).- Russia’s defense ministry has rebutted claims by the head of the Wagner Group mercenary organization that state authorities were intentionally withholding frontline munitions supplies in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy oligarch close to president Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday accused the ministry and chief of general staff of depriving Wagner fighters in eastern Ukraine of military supplies, likening the policy to “high treason,” according to an audio message cited by the Moscow Times.

“There is quite simply direct obstruction going on,” Prigozhin, who has previously blamed the defense ministry and military officials for slow advances in eastern Ukraine and accused them of appropriating Wagner victories.

The Wagner Group, whose ranks include convicts recruited specifically for the invasion of Ukraine, are currently involved in clashes around cities including Bakhmut.

Russia’s defense ministry, headed by Sergei Shoigu, late Tuesday repudiated Prigozhin’s “exalted” remarks, saying they were completely “false.”

The ministry said authorities had paid “special, constant and priority attention” to all fighting units in Ukraine, including “volunteer” groups, in reference to the Wagner Group, a so-called private military company.

It listed off supplies provided to “the volunteers of the assault squads” in recent days.

“All applications for the supply of ammunition for assault units are completed as soon as possible. So it was and so it will be,” the statement added.

“Attempts to split the close mechanism of interaction and support between the divisions of Russian forces are counterproductive and play only to the advantage of the enemy,” it said.

The latest public rift between the Wagner Group and Russian state authorities comes a day after Putin delivered his delayed state of the nation address, in which he blamed the West for starting the war in Ukraine.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, shortly after Putin recognized the independence claims of Donetsk and Luhansk, two regions of eastern Ukraine that since a 2014 uprising and war have been under the partial control of pro-Russian forces.EFE


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