Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin lashed out once again at the military leadership in Russia, as the gap between the Kremlin and its once close ally appears wider than ever. The leader of the mercenary team claimed in an audio recording published by his press service the Russian Defence Ministry has tried to “destroy” the Wagner Group twice over the past few years.
In the recording, the man once dubbed “Putin’s chef” thanks to his catering companies providing services for the Kremlin claimed: “We’re not just talking about some interference, we’re talking about physical, intentional destruction. Both then and now.”
The first attempt by the military leadership against the paramilitary group, he claimed, happened on February 8, 2018, when Wagner fighters were attacking ISIS positions in Syria.
At the time, the US Air Force struck down several mercenaries.
But Americans, Prigozhin alleged, had repeatedly warned the military commanders at the Kremlin about their upcoming airstrike in the area to give Russian troops enough time to evacuate.
However, Wagner Group was not notified, leaving its troops under US fire, the paramilitary troops’ chief claimed.
In his audio message, Prigozhin also claimed that the Russian military tried to sabotage his paramilitary group during the battle to take control of Bakhmut in Ukraine.
At some point during the long series of military clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russians in the area surrounding Bakhmut, in the Donbas region, Prigozhin claimed the Defence Ministry of his country “tried to close [Wagner fighters in the city] with no weapons”.
This hatred against his group would be motivated by envy, the tycoon claimed.
Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, he added, would also be a key figure behind this desire to “destroy” Wagner Group.
Prigozhin said: “This is a person who can’t stand it when somebody does something better than him.
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“So he wants everyone to go around kissing his feet, but Wagner Group has never done that.”
In recent months, the Wagner Group had slammed Shoigu and other Russian defence leaders multiple times, accusing them of being responsible for the negative performances of Moscow during the war.
Wagner Group troops led the offensive in Bakhmut for weeks as Moscow was seeking the first major battlefield victory in Ukraine since the summer of 2022.
However, Prigozhin accused the leadership of not sending enough ammunition and leaving his troops in danger.
After threatening for weeks to leave the frontline, the Wagner Group was eventually replaced by conventional troops in the city.
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