Wagner boss says his army lacks numbers for Putin coup, but defense chief can: Report

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The chief of Russia’s mercenary group Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, denied planning a coup against President Vladimir Putin, saying his army lacked the personnel needed while alluding to defense minister Sergei Shoigu as being in a position to be capable of toppling Putin, according to a report.

Former commander of pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine, Igor Girkin, had on Saturday accused Prigozhin of preparing for a coup and labeled the Wagner boss’s insults against the armed forces and top defense officials as criminal.


“In fact, with his statements, Prigozhin made a step towards mutiny,” said Girkin according to a video shared by WarTranslated, an independent organization which translates Ukraine war materials. He added: “If Prigozhin remains the head of Wagner, the mutiny will come quickly and radically.”

“A coup attempt has been declared... What will happen next, I don't know, especially as Wagner is urgently withdrawn to rear bases... The danger of a looming coup is clear,” Girkin said.

Prigozhin argued on Monday that Wagner simply didn’t have large enough numbers to carry out a coup, the think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW) which tracks daily developments of the Russian war on Ukraine highlighted in an assessment.

The Wagner chief also claimed to maintain good relations with Putin. Meanwhile, he subtly indicated that the person well-positioned and capable of staging a coup was the defense minister because he had access to the Russian special forces.

Prigozhin gained widespread notoriety for his public rants against the Russian elite and military top brass, and he repeatedly singled out Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Analysts told Al Arabiya English that despite his prominent public profile and high visibility on the global stage, his actual influence is diminishing. They also added that while his attention-grabbing antics persist, there is still a place for him within Putin’s power structure.

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