Chief Wagner warns against Russian revolution in the face of Ukraine war failures

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has warned of the potential for another Russian revolution similar to that of 1917 unless the strategy for the war in Ukraine is radically changed.

The Russian mercenary leader said in a message on Telegram that the number of casualties suffered by ordinary people in the war in Ukraine while the Moscow elites “shake their ass” could lead to widespread unrest and that the imposition of martial law might be necessary to prevent a real revolution.

“We are in such a state that we could lose Russia, that is the main problem… We must impose martial law,” Prigozhin said according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.

“First the soldiers will stand up, and after that their relatives will stand up,” he continued. “There are already tens of thousands of them – relatives of those who have been killed. And there will probably be hundreds of thousands – we can’t avoid that.

“This division can end like in 1917 with a revolution,” the Wagner boss warned, referring to the Communist overthrow of the Romanov royal family by the Communist uprising led by Vladimir Lenin a century ago.

He claimed that his mercenary group had recruited some 50,000 convicted prisoners so far in the war, 20% of whom had died, while 10,000 of his guns had also died in the fighting. Prigozhin then claimed that some 50,000 Ukrainians had been killed in the long-running Battle of Bakhmut, which Wagner claimed victory last week.

Although the exact numbers are difficult to quantify, the White House claimed earlier this month that Russia had suffered 100,000 deaths in Bakmut and other parts of Ukraine in the past five months alone, including 20,000 were Wagner’s soldiers.

Prigozhin, who has long been seen as a potential challenger to replace Vladimir Putin, continued to pursue the goal of the war as a whole, in particular the stated goal of the conflict, namely to “demilitarize” Ukraine.

Speaking to pro-Kremlin war blogger Konstantin Dolgov, he said: “So if they had 500 tanks at the beginning, now they have 5,000. If there were 20,000 men capable of fighting, it there are now 400,000. So how exactly did we demilitarize it? Quite the reverse! We militarized it to the brim.

“I think the Ukrainians today are one of the strongest armies in the world. They have high levels of organization, training, military intelligence.

The mercenary leader went on to criticize Moscow’s military rulers, calling them first of all for not sending their own sons to die in war and for having “screwed up” strategically.

Prigozhin singled out Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov for failing in the war effort, including, according to him, for not providing his mercenaries with the levels appropriate ammunition. He also pointed to the recent apparent counter-invasion of Russia’s Belgorod region as a failure of military leadership.

“Undoubtedly the death penalty will be reinstated because we are in a state of war…and the guilty will receive their punishment – at a minimum they will be hanged in Red Square,” Chief Wagner said in a veiled reference to the two military leaders.

According to Prigozhin, the only way to reverse the war would be to completely transform Russia into a war economy, saying the whole nation should be in charge of arms production.

“Stop building skyscrapers, new roads, new infrastructure – and only work for war. We have to live like in North Korea for several years and close the borders,” he said.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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