The head of the Wagner mercenary group criticized Russia’s military leadership after the Ukrainian armed forces managed to retake settlements on the outskirts of Bakhmut.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said it was a “shame” that Kiev troops were able to push back Russian lines and seize Berkhivka, a town in the northern suburbs of the embattled city.
Prigozhin’s Wagner group only last month managed to wrest Bakhmut from Ukrainian hands after months of brutal fighting reminiscent of World War I trench warfare, with tens of thousands killed on both sides.
The mercenary figurehead hit Russia’s defense minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Valery Gerasimov, mocking them and urging them to go to the front and see the failures for themselves.
‘Now part of the settlement of [Berkhivka] already lost, the troops are slowly falling back. What a disgrace!
‘Shoigu, Gerasimov, I urge you to come forward, raise your pistols to your men so they can advance. Come on, you can!
And if you can’t, you will die as heroes.
Prigozhin’s latest tirade comes as his mercenaries captured a lieutenant colonel from Vladimir Putin’s regular forces in the latest example of bitter infighting within Russian ranks.
The captured colonel was seen ducking his head in a humiliating video posted by the Wagner group in which he confessed his ‘guilt’ and admitted to being drunk on duty after he allegedly fired at a Wagner vehicle.
This follows claims by the mercenaries that the Russian regular army targeted their ranks with mines, as a clip showed their sappers clearing explosive devices from a road.
Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, launched several verbal tirades against Putin’s military leaders. He has accused them of ordering his troops to withdraw from their positions and leaving Wagner’s fighters on the front lines unprotected.
Wagner’s private army mercenaries film themselves demining a road which they claim was mined by regular Russian troops while the mercenaries were returning from the front lines.
A Ukrainian soldier fires a mortar at Russian front line positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 29, 2023.
An aerial view shows destruction in the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, in this handout photo released May 21, 202
Wagner’s mercenaries have been fighting for Putin in Ukraine and are credited with taking the city of Bakhmut from the Ukrainian armed forces after months of bloody warfare.
But his success apparently angered the regular commanders of the Russian army.
Wagner’s boss, Prigozhin, has launched several verbal tirades against Putin’s military leaders. He has accused them of ordering his troops to withdraw from their positions and leaving Wagner’s fighters unprotected on the front lines.
The captured soldier identified himself as Roman Venevitin, commander of the Russian 72 Brigade.
Venevitin, who appeared to have a broken or injured nose, confessed that he “opened fire on a Wagner PMC [private military company] vehicle in a state of intoxication by alcohol.
He did it out of “personal animosity,” he claimed.
The shooting damaged a Ural supply truck but did not wound any Wagner soldiers, according to the private army.
Venevitin also confessed to leading a group of 10 to 12 Russian Army soldiers who “disarmed” a Wagner rapid response group.
‘Does personal animosity have any place in war?’ an angry Wagner commander asked Venevitin.
“No,” the captured colonel replied timidly.
Wagner has a reputation for beating his own ‘traitors’ to death with a sledgehammer, but there is no indication that the Russian colonel faces the same treatment.
A summary execution of a high-ranking Russian commander by Wagner’s forces would cause unprecedented chaos in the ranks in Moscow.
The founder of Wagner’s private mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin (right), speaks to the military as his forces withdraw from Bakhmut and hand over to regular Russian forces.
A Ukrainian soldier fires a mortar at Russian positions on the front lines near Bakhmut.
The Wagner group is fighting in the Ukraine on behalf of Vladimir Putin, but the relationship between them and Putin’s regular troops is one of mutual hatred.
Venevitin’s capture came hours after Wagner’s mercenaries were forced to clear a road of mines which they claim had been laid by the regular army corps.
Prigozhin said the regular army had laid hundreds of mines to trap Wagner’s forces as they withdrew from Bakhmut after securing a rare victory for Putin in the war.
‘We discovered about a dozen locations where various explosive devices were placed, ranging from hundreds of anti-tank mines to tons of [charges] of the Zmey Gorynych self-propelled missiles,’ Prigozhin said.
‘Those who planted these charges were representatives of the defense ministry… These [explosive] You don’t need to stack charges to hold back the enemy, since it’s in the rear.
‘It can be assumed that they wanted to meet the advancing units of Wagner’s PMC. [Private Military Company] with these charges, although we do not walk in columns.’
It highlights the rift within the Kremlin forces fighting Ukraine, with some analysts seeing civil war as a possibility in Russia if Putin loses the war.
Despite huge losses and a ban on recruiting prisoners from Russia’s penal colonies, Prigozhin is still believed to have up to 60,000 men at his disposal.
Wagner is one of several private armies in Russia. The leader of the Chechen warlords, Ramzan Kadyrov, controls a heavily armed group of his own, and the Russian energy giant Gazprom has established its own private military company.
I am Rakesh Sharma, I associated with Elite News as an Editor, since 2021. I take care of all the news operations like content, budget, hiring and policy making.