Evgueni Prigojine has voiced sharp reproaches towards the Russian military on Telegram, accusing them of attempting to “destroy Wagner” by refusing to provide ammunition to the mercenaries.
On Tuesday, February 21, the head of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner accused his country’s military high command of committing “treason” by allegedly refusing to provide material to his mercenaries who are on the front lines in eastern Ukraine.
These statements by businessman Evgueni Prigojine mark an escalation in tensions between his group Wagner and the Russian military, which appear to be in competition on the ground in Ukraine.
“The chief of the general staff and the defense minister are issuing orders left and right, not only to not provide ammunition to the Wagner paramilitary group, but also to not assist them in terms of air transport,” growled Evgueni Prigojine in a voice recording published by his press service on Telegram.
“There is a frontal opposition, which is nothing less than an attempt to destroy Wagner. This can be equated with treason to the fatherland, while Wagner is fighting for Bakhmut, suffering losses in the hundreds every day,” he added.
If Evgueni Prigojine has criticized the Russian high command in the past, this personal attack on Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, two of the main figures of Vladimir Putin’s regime, is clearly an escalation.
These tensions also illustrate the difficulties that Russian forces are facing three days before the anniversary of the start of the offensive against Ukraine, which was supposed to end quickly with the taking of Kiev, but is now bogged down.
Wagner, which has recruited thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine, has been assaulting Bakhmut since the summer and has recently conquered a series of neighboring towns in an attempt to encircle the city.
On Tuesday, Evgueni Prigojine accused the high command of even prohibiting the delivery of “shovels that allow them to dig trenches” to Wagner fighters. Neither the army nor the Ministry of Defense had responded immediately.