Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin has stepped up his angry attacks on the Russian Defense Ministry, accusing Kremlin officials of deliberately preventing his fighters from capturing Bakhmut out of sheer jealousy at his military successes.
The mercenary boss dubbed “Putin’s Chef” said authorities are choosing to deprive Wagner of ammunition, which has slowed progress in the blood-soaked effort to take Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. “The objective is simple,” Prigozhin said. “PMC Wagner should not take Bakhmut.”
His comments, which were made during an interview with several Russian media outlets on Wednesday, are the latest development in an escalating war of words between Prigozhin and the official armed forces of Russia.
“Our actions today of course cause envy,” Prigozhin said, referring to jealousy among Russia’s military establishment. “So because we have successes, while in other places successes are not what they’d like to be, then instead of—remember what grandpa Lenin said: we all thought we were all meant to live well, but instead, they made it so that everyone lived the same but poorly.”
Prigozhin went on to say all of Russia “supported” Wagner after the fall of Soledar—a salt mining town near Bakhmut—a victory which he previously claimed was “solely” achieved by his mercenaries despite statements to the contrary by Russia’s Defense Ministry. After that success, Prigozhin claimed, the Kremlin’s attitude became: “Wagner should not be capturing Bakhmut under any circumstances.”
He said that his mercenaries have since been deprived of ammunition bringing “shell hunger” to the fight, but that “Wagner will take Bakhmut anyway.” He said this will be done “not because Prigozhin wants it,” but: “Bitch, we must prove to the whole world that the Russians can!”
After rattling off a string of other military targets in Ukraine, Prigozhin fumed: “No matter what it is, take fucking something!”
The mercenary chief also moaned about being deprived of access to military phones. “Leave me the phone! Set wiretapping on it,” Prigozhin said. “Know what I’m talking about, and call me sometimes and say: ‘Prigozhin, you’re a cunt, go fuck yourself,’ and hang up. At least like this. What’s the point of cutting it?”
He said receiving abuse from Defense Ministry commanders would be preferable to the current comms blackout, which could put his life in danger. “Is it so that my pilot, when he goes in the air, couldn’t warn air defense to not take me down because I’m flying?” Prigozhin asked. “You shouldn’t be playing kindergarten. War is very serious work.”
Internecine tensions have been brewing between Wagner and Russian President Vladimir Putin for months. Prigozhin’s latest outburst comes after he was barred from entering Russia’s military command earlier this month. He has also accused Kremlin commanders of “betraying the motherland” and attempting to “destroy” Wagner by throttling supplies.
Fighting for outright control of Bakhmut remains intense. On Thursday, Russia’s puppet leader in the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin, told state media agency TASS that the situation in Bakhmut “remains complicated, difficult,” and that he did not “see that there are any prerequisites there that the enemy is going to simply withdraw units.”