Wagner Group and Russian military at odds, Ukraine reacts to infighting

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Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on Friday accused the Russian military of destroying his fighters, without explaining his accusation, and vowed to stop the “evil” of the military leadership.

The Defense Ministry quickly issued a statement saying Prigozhin’s accusations “do not correspond to reality and are an informational provocation.”

The chief accused Moscow’s military leadership of ordering strikes on their camps and killing a “huge” number of forces.

“We were ready to make concessions to the defense ministry, surrender our weapons,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in a furious audio message released by his spokespeople.

“Today, seeing that we have not been broken, they conducted missile strikes at our rear camps.”

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He said details of what had occurred were just emerging, but added, “The Minister of Defense arrived specially in Rostov to carry out an operation to destroy the Wagner PMC (private military company).”

An unverified video posted on the “Razgruzka Wagner” (Wagner’s Combat Vest) Telegram channel showed a scene in a forest where small fires were burning and trees appeared to have been broken by force.

It carried the caption, “A missile attack was launched on the camps of PMC Wagner. Many victims. According to eyewitnesses, the strike was delivered from the rear, that is, it was delivered by the military of the Russian Ministry of Defense.”

Prigozhin vowed to avenge the incident, “There are 25,000 of us and we are going to figure out why chaos is happening in the country.”

But he also added, “This is not a military coup. It is a march for justice. Our actions do not in any way interfere with troops.”

Additionally, Prigozhin accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of ordering 2,000 bodies of Wagner fighters be hidden in a morgue in southern Russia.

Earlier in the day, Prigozhin, appeared to cross a new line in his increasingly vitriolic feud with Moscow, saying that the Kremlin’s rationale for invading Ukraine was based on lies concocted by the army’s top brass.

Russia opens criminal case against Prigozhin

Russia’s FSB security service has opened a criminal case against mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for calling for armed mutiny, the TASS news agency said, citing the National Antiterrorism Committee.

President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the developments and “necessary measures are being taken,” Interfax news agency said, citing Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Ukraine’s reaction

The Ukrainian army said it was following infighting in Moscow after the head of the Wagner mercenary group accused Russia’s military of attacking one of the private fighting group’s bases.

“We are watching,” the Ukrainian defense ministry tweeted, while Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said rival Russian factions had begun to “eat each other over power and money.”

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