Vladimir Putin should end his so-called “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine, and concentrate on hanging on to the territory it has already gained, according to the leader of the Wagner Group.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the feared mercenary army, has issued a statement that suggests: "For the authorities and for society as a whole, it is necessary to put some kind of bold full stop in the ‘special military operation’.
“The ideal option is to announce the end of the special military operation."
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The original goal of Putin’s attack was to seize Kyiv and “decapitate” Ukraine’s government. But over a year into the war, Russia has lost around 20% of the 51,000 square miles of Ukrainian territory it once held.
And with a massive Ukrainian counter-attack expected by the Summer, Russia stands to lose even more land.
Prigozhin suggests reinforcing Russian-speaking provinces such as Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk and launching a propaganda campaign to convince the Russian public that these territories had been the main goal of the invasion all along.
He says that Putin should announce the end of the special military operation, and “inform everyone that Russia has achieved the results that it planned”.
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“And in a sense,” Prigozhin adds, “we have really achieved them. We have killed a huge number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and can report to ourselves that our task has been completed.
“Theoretically, Russia has already received this full stop by destroying a large part of the active male population of Ukraine, by intimidating another part of it that has fled to Europe.
Russia has cut off the Azov Sea and a large chunk of the Black Sea, seized a fat chunk of Ukraine's territory, and created a land corridor to Crimea."
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Prigozhin believes that the invasion has created a problem for Russia by strengthening opposition to Putin among the Ukrainian people.
He said: "If earlier Ukraine was part of former Russia, now it is an absolutely national-oriented state”.
The recent leak of Pentagon secret papers has revealed hints of infighting among the Kremlin leadership.
Prigozhin had accused Russia’s ministry of defence of “treason” for failing to get ammunition to Wagner fighters and “also not helping with air transport.”
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