Putin’s foot soldier vs chef: Kadryov wants own military company to take on Prigozhin

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Ramzan Kadyrov, the ally of Russian President Putin who leads the Chechnya region, said he plans to create his own private military company to “compete” with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of Russia’s mercenary group Wagner, Interfax news agency reported on Sunday.

“Without any doubt, this kind of professional formation is needed and necessary. Therefore, when I finish my work in the civil service, I seriously plan to compete with our dear brother Yevgeny Prigozhin and create a private military company,” Interfax cited Kadyrov as saying.

Kadryov added that the Wagner group has proved its effectiveness in military terms and highlighted the “talk about the need for private military companies.”

Kadyrov calls himself “Putin’s foot soldier”, has ruled Chechnya for the past decade and has been called out by rights groups for human rights violations. He is important for the Kremlin because he pledges absolute loyalty in return for ruling a majority Muslim region with a wide degree of autonomy and generous subsidies.

Kadyrov had deployed Chechen fighters to fight alongside Russian soldiers in Ukraine from the beginning of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Chechen leader’s comments about private military companies comes at a time when there is reported tension between long time allies Putin and Prigozhin.

Prigozhin is a millionaire with close ties to Putin, and was dubbed “Putin’s chef” for very profitable catering contracts with the Kremlin. He founded and currently leads the Wagner mercenary group, which is a private military group with forces in large part comprised of thousands of convicts, as it has a prison recruitment system from penitentiaries across Russia. A program

Wagner’s forces have also been taking part in the fight against Ukraine, and many of its units have taken lead roles in recent battles for control of areas in east Ukraine.

Prigozhin grabbed headlines last week when he blamed the “monstrous bureaucracy” of Russian leadership for the slow gains in Ukraine. He also claimed to have captured and established control over Ukrainian ground without the help of the Russian army, which has ruffled the feathers of Moscow’s top brass.

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