The chief of Russia’s Wagner personal mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says Moscow’s plan to “demilitarize” Ukraine with its full-scale invasion has failed, as an alternative turning its neighbor’s military into one of many “strongest on the planet” and setting Russia up for a attainable rebellion.
In an interview with pro-Kremlin political observer Konstantin Dolgov, the complete model of which was revealed on Could 24, Prigozhin, a detailed ally of President Vladimir Putin, recalled that when Moscow launched its invasion of Ukraine in February final yr the Kremlin known as it “a particular navy operation to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine.”
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Some 15 months later, the West has not uninterested in the battle nor backed off its assist of Ukraine, which has not solely put up staunch resistance however is now getting ready a counteroffensive, the Wagner chief mentioned.
Prigozhin, 61, did not mince phrases within the interview, saying Russia’s navy management had “f**ked up” many occasions throughout the battle, resulting in failures reminiscent of this week’s cross-border incursion into Russian territory by forces preventing in opposition to Russia and heavy troop losses, together with some 20,000 Wagner troops throughout the monthslong combat for the jap Ukrainian metropolis of Bakhmut.
“Ukraine’s military now has a excessive stage of organizational abilities, a excessive stage of coaching, a excessive stage of intelligence. They’ve several types of weapons and, what’s most vital, they’ll simply and efficiently work with all techniques — Soviet, NATO techniques, you title it,” mentioned Prigozhin, who has at occasions bitterly complained about Russia’s protection equipment failing to assist his fighters, who’ve performed a key position within the few victories claimed by Russia throughout the battle.
Prigozhin’s frequent, bluntly worded press releases and unrestrained, profanity-laced criticism of senior Russian officers and navy brass have change into one thing of a private trademark, prompting some to invest the Kremlin-connected businessman harbors political ambitions that might even embrace difficult Putin.
In latest months, as his ostensibly personal mercenary group has borne the brunt of the fierce preventing in and round Bakhmut, Prigozhin has stepped out into the limelight. His firm has launched movies displaying him personally visiting prisons to recruit convicts to combat in Ukraine and purportedly touring the battle-scarred streets of Bakhmut, generally with corpses littering the areas behind him.
Though the ugly movies have appalled a lot of the world, the sledgehammer picture has change into an integral a part of the Prigozhin model and, extra importantly, symbolic of the brutal shift that Russian political tradition has undergone since Putin invaded Ukraine.
Within the interview, Prigozhin reiterated his earlier criticism of the nation’s principal protection officers, accusing Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Basic Workers Valery Gerasimov of unprofessionalism and corruption that led to troop losses in Ukraine.
Prigozhin additionally criticized Shoigu and Russia’s elite for permitting their kids to evade mobilization and “take pleasure in life and have enjoyable in Dubai and elsewhere,” suggesting the battle in Ukraine might result in “what occurred in 1917” in Russia, that means a mass mutiny by troopers and their refusal to participate within the World Struggle I that led to the Russian Revolution.
“We’re at such some extent that we might f**king lose Russia — that’s the principal drawback…. We have to impose martial legislation,” he mentioned, concluding that the “state of affairs for us won’t be good, and that’s the reason must prepare for an arduous battle.”