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 a substitute 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 total model of which was printed on Might 24, Prigozhin, an in depth 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 army operation to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine.”
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Some 15 months later, the West has not uninterested in the conflict 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 army management had “f**ked up” many occasions throughout the conflict, resulting in failures comparable to this week’s cross-border incursion into Russian territory by forces preventing towards Russia and heavy troop losses, together with some 20,000 Wagner troops throughout the monthslong battle 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 various kinds of weapons and, what’s most essential, they will simply and efficiently work with all methods — Soviet, NATO methods, 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 function 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 army brass have turn out to be 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 battle in Ukraine and purportedly touring the battle-scarred streets of Bakhmut, typically with corpses littering the areas behind him.
Though the ugly movies have appalled many of the world, the sledgehammer picture has turn out to be 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 essential protection officers, accusing Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Russian Armed Forces Normal 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 youngsters to evade mobilization and “get pleasure from life and have enjoyable in Dubai and elsewhere,” suggesting the conflict 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 Conflict I that led to the Russian Revolution.
“We’re at such a degree that we might f**king lose Russia — that’s the essential drawback…. We have to impose martial regulation,” he mentioned, concluding that the “situation for us won’t be good, and that’s the reason have to prepare for an arduous conflict.”