He promotes himself and him Wagner mercenary group as true patriots, in contrast to what he derides as the corrupt and incompetent military hierarchy. The language gets harsher, and the stakes are higher.
In the past few weeks, Prigozhin has been seen near the frontlines in the occupied eastern region of Donetsk, handing oranges to troops or grimly reviewing body bags, addressing his fighters with unrefined language and at times audacious.
He rarely misses an opportunity to take a quick bite at the enterprise. Somewhere in Donetsk earlier this month, Prigozhin told his fighters: “Once we overcome our internal bureaucracy and corruption, we will conquer the Ukrainians and NATO.”
For Prigozhin, the chief bureaucrat he has in mind is Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The two appear to have fallen out over the lucrative military contracts awarded to and then taken from Prigozhin’s Concorde Group, as well as Wagner’s controversial role in Syria.
Credit struggle in Solidar: Prigozhin said on Friday that it was “exclusively” his forces that had made the alleged gains around Solidar in recent days.
In a video exchange with his fighters, Prigozhin asked provocatively: “Other than Wagner PMC, who else is here?”
“no body else!” they answered.
Ukrainian forces continue to deny that Solidar has fallen, and even Prigozhin has acknowledged that fighting continues there.
Regardless of the ambitions of the mercenary leader It did not go unnoticed in Washington, DC.
“In the recent past, we’ve seen Wagner advance more quickly than any other unit in the Russian military,” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Laura Cooper said at a press briefing on Friday.
Read more an analysis of Prigozhin’s role in the war here.
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