Wagner Group boss, ‘Putin’s butcher’, says Russia risks losing war in Ukraine and facing ‘revolution’
The man in charge of Russia’s infamous Wagner Group private mercenary army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has warned that Russia could face a ‘revolution’ and lose its war in Ukraine unless the country’s ‘elites’ do not engage fully in the struggle and place the country “in the North”. Korea mode”, with martial law imposed, to achieve frontline results.
In a lengthy video interview with a pro-war, pro-Kremlin blogger, Prigozhin lashed out at Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and his daughter Ksenia, a sports leader whose New Year’s vacation in times of war in Dubai angered the Russian public.
Russia threatened with a forked “revolution”
“Children of the elites… allow themselves to lead a public, fat and carefree life,” Prigozhin fumed, “while the children of others come back shredded in zinc coffins.”
“This duality can end like in 1917, with a revolution, when the soldiers first rise up, then their relatives do it,” he warned, referring to the Russian revolution which overthrew the country’s monarchy. more than a century ago. Prigozhin said Russian citizens could attack the houses of elites with “pitchforks…and don’t think there are hundreds of them, now there are now tens of thousands of relatives of those who were killed, and there will probably be hundreds of thousands.”
It was not the first time that Prigozhin has criticized the country’s top brass or its political and business elite, whom he considers incompetent and has even accused of treason for holding foreign property and sending their children abroad. but the interview stood out for the harshness of its criticism of the strategic mistakes made by Russian military forces in their latent war in Ukraine.
“Prepare for a Hard War”
“We aggressively stormed and stomped our boots all over Ukraine while searching for Nazis,” Prigozhin said. “We approached Kyiv, put our pants on and retreated. Then on Kherson, where we also put our pants on and retired, and nothing seems to be working for us.”
He said the vague goals set out by his longtime associate, President Vladimir Putin, and other Russian officials at the start of the war, such as aimed at “denazifying” and “demilitarizing” Ukrainehad failed.
Prigozhin avoided criticizing Putin himself. He even reaffirmed his devotion to the Russian leader, to the war in Ukraine and to the Russian homeland, accusing Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov of a poorly organized chain of command and corruption that left the Russian armed forces unprepared for fierce Ukrainian, Western-backed Resistance.
Prigozhin, who grew rich through government catering contracts and has since diversified, such as CBS News’ own investigation revealedto fund his private army through a vast and brutal international criminal enterprise, offered two potential scenarios for how he thought the war in Ukraine might play out for Russia:
“There are optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. The optimistic scenario, which I don’t really believe in, is that Europe and America will get tired of the Ukrainian conflict, and then China will bring everyone to the negotiating table,” did he declare. “We will agree that whatever we have already seized is ours, and whatever has not been seized is not ours. This scenario is unlikely to be possible.”
Instead, Prigozhin said, Ukraine could get more Western weapons and step up its long-awaited counteroffensive, which “could be successful in some places.”
“They will try to restore their borders from 2014, and that could easily happen; they will attack Crimea, they will try to blow up the Crimean bridge, cut the supply lines, and for us this scenario will not be good, so we have to prepare for a hard war,” he continued.
“We are in such a condition that we could lose Russia, which is the main problem… We have to impose martial law,” Prigozhin concluded.
Prigozhin offers the death toll of the Wagner group
Chief Wagner gave his first estimates of the number of casualties among his company’s mercenaries, saying he had recruited 50,000 convicts in Russian prisons during the war, 20% of whom had died, along with another 10,000 contracted forces.
The White House said in early May that around 10,000 Wagner fighters had been killed around the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in the bloodiest battle of the war to date since December alone.
It is impossible to verify either the American estimate or Prigozhin’s figure, which is double, but which covers the 15 months of the war.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has not released casualty figures since September, when it said around 6,000 regular soldiers had died in the war – a significant undercount according to intelligence and experts Western military.
For the first time, Prigozhin also commented on his nickname, “Putin’s boss”, given to him by Russian investigative journalists after discovering his extensive catering contracts with the government.
“I’ve never been a chef; I was a restaurant owner and very successful. I don’t know how to cook myself. They should have just offered ‘Putin’s Butcher’ instead,” Prigozhin joked. in an apparent reference to the brutal tactics of his mercenary army now deployed from Ukraine For central Africa.
Prigozhin’s ability to spit bitter criticism at senior Russian officials with apparent impunity, which is then amplified by cohorts of influential pro-war bloggers on Russian Telegram channels, has baffled many Russia watchers. Similar, even more tame comments landed dozens of political dissidents and others in jail under strict laws passed by the Russian parliament at the start of the invasion of Ukraine to silence opposing voices.
But Prigozhin and his mercenaries achieved front-line success – largely by throwing waves of convicts ill-prepared and ill-equipped for battle as cannon fodder, according to Ukrainian and Western officials.
These limited successes, after months of embarrassing routs suffered by the regular army, prompted Putin to recently praise Wagner and the army for taking control of Bakhmut, although Ukraine still insists the town dispute.
Many took Putin’s praise as confirmation that, despite his public antics, Prigozhin continues to be highly approved for his dedication to Russia’s war.
“I love my homeland. I obey Putin. To hell with Shoigu,” Prigozhin said in his latest rant. “We will continue to fight.”