Mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group have taken captive 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 Wagner in which he confessed “guilty” and admitted to being drunk on duty after he allegedly fired at a Wagner vehicle.
This follows allegations by Wagner that the Russian regular army targeted its ranks with mines, as a clip released by the group showed its sappers clearing explosive devices from a road.
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 Wagner’s success apparently infuriated the regular commanders of the Russian army, and relations between them are poisonous.
Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, launched several verbal tirades against Putin’s army leaders, whom he accused of ordering their troops to withdraw from their positions and leaving Wagner’s fighters unprotected on the front lines.
The founder of Wagner’s private mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin (right), speaks to the military as his forces withdraw from Bakhmut and hand over their positions to regular Russian troops.
Wagner’s private army mercenaries film themselves demining a road which they claim was mined by regular Russian troops on the way back from the Wagner front.
The Wagner group is fighting in the Ukraine on behalf of Vladimir Putin (pictured), but the Russian regular army and mercenaries share a mutual hatred.
The captured lieutenant colonel identified himself as Roman Venevitin, commander of the Russian 72nd 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 firefight damaged a Ural supply truck but did not wound any Wagner soldiers, according to the private army headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Venevitin also confessed to leading a group of 10-12 Russian Army soldiers who ‘disarmed’ a Wagner rapid response group.
‘Does personal animosity have any place in war?’ an angry Wagner commander barked at 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.
Wagner’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, launched several verbal tirades against Putin’s army leaders, whom he accused of ordering their troops to withdraw from their positions.
Ukrainian artillery batteries fire on the Bahkmut front line in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on May 28, 2023
A Ukrainian soldier fires a mortar at Russian frontline positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine on May 28, 2023.
Colonel Venevitin’s capture came just hours after Wagner’s mercenaries had been forced to clear a road riddled with mines which they claim had been laid by their regular army compatriots.
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.
‘Shortly before our departure, we detected suspicious activity along our route.
‘[Following] this suspicious activity, we contacted the police and began to study our exit routes along the highways.
‘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 Ministry of Defense… 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,’ he concluded.
These cases highlight a clear break within the Kremlin forces fighting Ukraine, although some analysts see an all-out civil war as a legitimate 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.
But Wagner is just one of several private armies in Russia.
The Chechen warlord’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, controls a heavily armed group of his own, and even the Russian energy giant Gazprom has set up 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.