Wagner group was hit hard in the battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine and it appears to be taking a toll on Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Russian private military company. The loss of life and ammunition shortages have left Prigozhin in a state of frustration and anger. He launched into a rant against Russia’s military leadership, blaming them for the deaths.
Standing amidst the bodies of his dead Wagner fighters, Prigozhin accused Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, of withholding ammunition. He claimed that instead of using shells to kill enemy combatants, Russian troops are killing their own soldiers. Prigozhin’s outbursts have become increasingly frequent and vicious, sparking concerns about the level of infighting within the Russian military.
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However, in a country where criticizing Vladimir Putin can lead to imprisonment, Prigozhin seem to be getting away with it. According to Russian investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov, Putin is paranoid about maintaining control and political stability, and infighting is a tool to keep the military off balance.
The infighting appears to be taking a toll on Russia, with Ukraine claiming to have made gains in Bakhmut. Although Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims that their long-anticipated counter-offensive has not yet begun, Prigozhin has accused the Russian army of cutting and running. He claimed that territories that were previously liberated by Russian forces are now being abandoned almost without a fight.
Bakhmut was supposed to be a much-needed win for Putin, but now it could ring in major problems to come. Soldatov believes that Putin is nervous and unable to trust what his people are telling him.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has claimed thousands of lives and shows no signs of ending. The battle for Bakhmut is just one example of the intensity of the fighting and the toll it is taking on both sides. The infighting within the Russian military only adds to the complexities of the situation, making it increasingly challenging to find a peaceful resolution.