Ukraine: Smoke rises from Russian border post in Kozinka
The boss of the mercenary Wagner group has said Russia is being led towards a revolution by incompetence on the battlefield in Ukraine because of the leadership of Vladimir Putin.
Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s stinging riposte comes after previous criticisms over the strategy deployed in the invasion – which is entering its 16th month.
He claimed the botched invasion has allowed Ukraine to develop “one of the world’s strongest armies.”
He also said that if Russia does not change its tactics, Ukraine could retake Crimea, the region in the south which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
Prigozhin predicted the grim reintroduction of the death penalty in Russia to punish those said to be “betraying Russia’s mission” – leaving them hanging “on Red Square”.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and army chief Valery Gerasimov are likely to be the figures blamed due to their failures in taking Ukraine.
In his startling accusation, Shiogu and Gerasimov were accused of having presided over a bigger loss of men than the 10-year Soviet war in Afghanistan which failed and led to the collapse of the USSR in 1991.
Prigozhin told pro-war blogger Konstantin Dolgov: “So the denazification of Ukraine, which we announced – we made Ukraine a nation, known to everyone around the globe. They are like Greeks at their peak, or Romans.
“We legitimized Ukraine, it became a country that is known to everyone. As for de-militarization…[this is] a painful issue indeed.”
Prigozhin continued: “So if they had at the start of it 500 tanks – now they have 5,000. If there were 20,000 men who were able to fight – now there are 400,000. So how exactly did we demilitarize it? Quite the opposite! We militarised it up to the brim.
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“I think Ukrainians today are one of the world’s strongest armies. They have high levels of organization, training and military intelligence.
“They have various ammunition and moreover, they are able to switch between any system – Soviet, NATO, anything at all – with the same success. They take their losses philosophically.
“All they do is to achieve the supreme goal, just like us during the Great Patriotic War [World War Two].”
The mercenary admitted his private army has lost 10,000 prisoners which were freed from Russian prisons to fight Putin’s barbaric invasion. But Western analysts say this number is likely far higher.
Prigozhin took aim at Russian elites who are not having their kin fight in the war.
He added: “Their sons must be forced to the war. When you bury them, the rest of the Russian parents who receive their kids in zinc coffins would feel that now the situation is right.
“If this doesn’t happen, we risk revolution.”
Wagner mercenaries have claimed victory in the eastern city of Bakhmut despite the head of Ukraine’s ground forces, Oleksandr Syrskyi, saying Kyiv’s troops “are continuing their defensive operation”.
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