The founder of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has cast doubt about the future of the private military company (PMC) that he heads.
In a video interview, he told the Russian military blogger Semyon Pegov how “we are coming to the point where Wagner is ending.”
It was not clear when the video was recorded and the businessman with close links to Vladimir Putin did not specify exactly how the group would come to an end.
“Wagner, in a short period of time, will cease to exist. We will become history, nothing to worry about, things like this happen,” Prigozhin added.
He was then asked whether such a statement would demoralize everyone, before responding that he would say it again, and referred to his need for more ammunition. Newsweek has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
As of Saturday, the video had received more than 123,000 views. “Interesting… Tea or sledgehammer?” tweeted Ukrainian internal affairs adviser Anton Gerashchenko next to the clip, in describing causes of the possible demise, including a reference to the brutal killing of a Wagner fighter which had been widely reported.
Prigozhin’s reference to ammunition shortages echoes previous complaints he had made about not getting the resources from the Russian defense establishment that he required.
He has been at loggerheads with the Russian Defense Ministry but there has been reportedly something of a recent rapprochement between him and Moscow, although he has disputed that his relations with the Russian military had improved.
Once considered a close ally of Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin has issued public rebukes of Russian military leaders. Michael Kimmage, who held the Russia/Ukraine portfolio while on the U.S. State Department’s policy planning staff, previously told Newsweek, there would be “costs to removing him” for Putin, because it would make his invasion “look more rickety than it already does.”
The Wagner Group continues to have extensive operations in Africa, where it is involved in mining projects and provides military training. The Independent reported on Friday that the group is operating in Sudan, where fighting has been ongoing due to a power struggle between the army and the Rapid Support Forces.
Prighozin has said that “not a single Wagner PMC [private military company] fighter has been present in Sudan” for over two years.
Meanwhile, Prigozhin said this week that Ukraine had been sending units to Bakhmut in preparation for an “inevitable” counteroffensive. As the fierce fight for the Donetsk town continues, Russian milbloggers said that Wagner troops had broken through Ukrainian defensive lines in the center of the town and had continued to attack Kyiv’s forces from the north, south, and west, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Source : Newsweek