Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group Wagner, made bold accusations on Friday, blaming Moscow’s military leadership for ordering airstrikes on their camps and causing significant casualties.
In an audio message released by his spokespersons, Prigozhin revealed, “Despite our willingness to negotiate with the defense ministry and disarm, they resorted to missile strikes on our rear camps.”
The Russian defense ministry has categorically denied any involvement in the alleged strikes on Wagner forces. However, according to a CNN report, Russia’s domestic intelligence service has initiated a criminal case against Prigozhin.
Prigozhin also took aim at Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, holding him responsible for initiating the war in Ukraine in February of the previous year. This latest allegation is significant as it challenges Russia’s justifications for the invasion of Ukraine.
In a video posted on social media, Prigozhin asserts that Russia lacked an immediate security threat that would have justified a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. He stated, “There was no intention from Ukraine’s Armed Forces, in alliance with NATO, to attack Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry is deceiving both the public and the president.”
Prigozhin further claims that the war was not intended to demilitarize or de-nazify Ukraine, but rather to fulfill personal ambitions and gain additional recognition within the ruling elite. He criticizes the Russian military leadership for poor planning and embarrassing setbacks on the battlefield.
According to Prigozhin, thousands of highly skilled Russian soldiers were killed within the first days of the war due to Shoigu’s actions. He alleges that Russian military leadership regarded these losses as acceptable and continued to sacrifice more soldiers for their own gain.
Prigozhin contends that the war also served the purpose of enriching the ruling elite, who were unsatisfied with the commercial potential of the Donbas region in Ukraine that came under Moscow’s control through proxy separatist forces in 2014.
Contrary to recent assessments by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin asserts that Moscow’s forces are retreating in Ukraine’s eastern and southern regions due to a counteroffensive by Kyiv. He challenges the official narrative by stating, “The Russian army is retreating on the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson fronts. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are pushing back.”
It is important to note that the claims and counterclaims surrounding the Ukraine-Russia conflict are numerous, both on the ground and online. While WION takes utmost care to report this developing news story accurately, the authenticity of all statements, photos, and videos cannot be independently verified.
(With inputs from agencies)