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Tags: vladimir putin | wagner group | mercenaries | war

Is Putin Sidelining Wagner Group?


By    |   Sunday, 19 February 2023 01:10 PM EST

A video shared on Telegram by the Wagner Group, a paramilitary mercenary force used by Russia's Vladimir Putin, shows "hundreds" of bodies of dead fighters, saying they are dying in Ukraine due to a lack of funding and weapons from Russia.

The Wagner Group is fronted by a longtime Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, but the public criticism of Russia's war effort in Ukraine is seen as a potential break between the once-vaunted mercenary force and Russia, Newsweek reported.

Prigozhin's Wagner Group is blaming "military functionaries," including the Russian defense ministry for falling to deliver on promises of "weapons, ammunition and everything necessary on time," in what the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) think tank considers an "informational counteroffensive against the conventional Russian military establishment."

The Wagner Group urged Russian officials to "defend" Russia by delivering weapons to keep up the assault in Ukraine so they do not have to send their "sons-in-law who take TikToks" to the front lines, according to the report.

The losses in Ukraine by the Wagner Group has Putin reportedly sidelining the group of late, particularly in the battle of Bakhmut.

Social media videos Friday showed Wagner mercenaries complaining they are "completely cut off from the ammunition supply" from the defense ministry, and one showed a paid fighter calling on "colleagues and friends from the Ministry of Defense" to send them "ammunition somewhere in the stockpiles," Newsweek reported.

"The escalation of Wagner's direct accusations against the Russian MoD represents a new informational counteroffensive by Prigozhin that seeks to continue to undermine the Russian MoD and obscure Wagner's attrition-based operational model by blaming the Russian MoD for its failures," ISW report read.

Prigozhin has long been both an ally of Putin and a critic of the "Russian establishment," according to the ISW, "promoting the Wagner Group as an elite force that could secure tactical gains that the regular Russian military could not."

Prigozhin has even admitted to being behind the Internet Research Agency that has been accused to U.S. elections meddling, making him a key figure in the Russia's worldwide operations, albeit ones that continue to prove to be failures.

"Prigozhin has been a criminal for a very long time," a U.S. source told Politico. "The nature of his activities hasn't really changed that much.

"It's just that they’ve grown, and really, they've grown in Ukraine, more than anything else."

Prigozhin uses his influence over Russia's military and political influence operations to enrich himself and a potentially sidelining could fracture the relationship as the war reaches ots second year, according to Politico.

"Not only is Wagner fighting [along] with the Russians, Prigozhin is forcing the Russian Defense Ministry to recognize [the group]," a senior U.S. official familiar with intelligence told Politico. "This is a totally new thing.

"They have clearly gained militaristic strength but also political stature. We would have never thought that they would become such a huge player. The fact that he [Putin] now recognizes crazy people basically — criminals, basically — is a change."

But, Politico reports, Prigozhin might have his own designs on being a political leader in Russia.

"Prigozhin has political ambitions; he doesn't just want to stay as an oligarch or wealthy man; his political ambitions are growing," Jamestown Foundation's Senior Fellow Sergey Sukhankin told Politico. "The Russian authorities and political elite are recognizing that Wagner is here and Prigozhin has political ambitions they have to deal with."

© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

A video shared on Telegram by the Wagner Group, a paramilitary mercenary force used by Russia's Vladimir Putin, shows "hundreds" of bodies of dead fighters, saying they are dying in Ukraine due to a lack of funding and weapons from Russia.
vladimir putin, wagner group, mercenaries, war
Sunday, 19 February 2023 01:10 PM
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