War against Ukraine: Wagner boss laments “chaos” in Russian warfare

war against Ukraine
Wagner boss laments “chaos” in Russian warfare

Yevgeny Prigozhin is the head of the Russian private army Wagner. photo

© Uncredited/AP/dpa

In Russia, criticism of its own warfare is growing. Not only Wagner boss Prigozhin presents himself as a Kremlin critic. For the first time, a member of parliament from the governing party has publicly accused the power apparatus of failing.

The head of Russia’s private army, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is increasingly putting pressure on the Kremlin by criticizing the “chaotic” warfare against Ukraine. In view of the Belgorod border region, which has been under artillery fire for days, he is now even threatening his mercenaries to invade if the Defense Ministry does not “quickly” put things in order there. “Chaos reigns in the ministry,” Prigozhin said on Saturday. In the 15-month war of aggression against Ukraine, Russia has suffered numerous setbacks.

“The area is already being conquered there,” Prigozhin said of the fighting in Belgorod. “Peaceful people are dying.” The population needs protection. “We will not wait for an invitation.” However, the Russian military must provide ammunition. “Otherwise, as they say, we’ll be sitting on the frost with our bare ass.” The region has been under artillery fire from the Ukrainian side for days. Villages had to be evacuated. The authorities had children brought to safe regions.

Prigozhin is increasingly presenting himself as a critic of the Kremlin

No one in Russia dares such harsh words as Prigozhin, who is increasingly presenting himself as a critic of the Kremlin. Opposition members who make similar statements are either in prison camps, living in exile abroad – or are dead. The difference to other Russians who find themselves in prison camps when criticizing the “special military operation” – as the war is called in Russia: 62-year-old is a confidante of President Vladimir Putin. Unlike real opponents of the Kremlin, he never questions the head of the Kremlin himself. That’s probably why it’s allowed to act as a “valve”.

Not everyone likes it: Last week, Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov’s Ahmat army unit said that Prigozhin was tarnishing the army’s reputation. There are high penalties in Russia. It was also said that the head of the Wagner mercenary group should shut up. Achmat fighters also threatened him with violence. But after a phone call with Kadyrov, Prigozhin declared the deal on Saturday to be settled. But he wouldn’t let himself be banned from speaking. He wants the army to do its job with dignity and pride – and not to degenerate into a system of “sycophony, sycophancy and irresponsibility.”

Lawsuit against Department of Defense

The Wagner boss reiterated that he is sticking to his complaint to the Prosecutor General’s Office against the ministry because many of his fighters were killed in the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut due to a lack of ammunition deliveries. Prigozhin withdrew his local mercenaries to hand over control of Bakhmut to regular Russian forces. On Sunday he had to admit that the Ukrainian armed forces in the city again took up positions – a triumph for Kiev, a new disaster for Moscow, as commented by observers on social networks.

But Prigozhin’s criticism is also repeatedly directed at parts of the Kremlin. The attempt to sow discord between Kadyrov’s troops and the Wagner army is a “dangerous game”. Regarding the course of the war, he said: “We didn’t open Pandora’s box.” He agrees with Kadyrov that Russia needs general mobilization and martial law for a victory against Ukraine. The Kremlin has so far rejected this, but the pressure is increasing.

Public criticism increases

Public criticism of the warfare is growing because Moscow’s troops have not had any military successes against the resistance of the Ukrainian armed forces. At the Kremlin and at the Ministry of Defense, this bounces off: Silence, sit out is the motto. At a conference on “Which Ukraine do we need?” Mistake by Moscow and a failure across the board.

The “special military operation” should have been called “war” from the start, said Zatulin. It was a misjudgment to be able to win the war within a few days. Not a single war goal issued by the Kremlin has been implemented: neither a demilitarization of Ukraine nor its neutrality, nor better protection of the people in Donbass. “In which of the points did we get a result? In none of them,” said Zatulin. He sees the Kremlin’s entire foreign policy in a dead end.

Satulin dares harsh criticism

So far, no member of the pro-Kremlin parliament has made such harsh criticism publicly. However, Zatulin is on the Kremlin line insofar as he fundamentally supports the war. He calls for a national effort to win the fight. The deputy also said yes to the question of whether Ukraine will survive as a state. “Because our forces are not sufficient to prevent that – with the support that she is receiving,” he said, referring to Western aid for Ukraine.

From the point of view of political scientist Abbas Galljamov, who is critical of the Kremlin, a feeling of powerlessness is spreading in Russia. In view of the fighting in Belgorod on the border with Ukraine, people understand that Putin’s system offers no protection. Everyone now sees the weakness of Putin’s army. People felt cheated in their belief in Russia’s invincibility. “In an authoritarian society, strength is valued and weakness despised,” says Galliamov. This would fuel “revolutionary tendencies”.


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