Who is Wagner chief defying Russia’s military leadership?

Who is Wagner chief defying Russia’s military leadership?

In this Sept. 20, 2010, file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Vladimir Putin around his facility that produces school meals outside St. Petersburg. euronews.com/
 In this Sept. 20, 2010, file photo, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, shows Vladimir Putin around his facility that produces school meals outside St. Petersburg. euronews.com/

A 62-year-old man named Yevgeny Prigozhin, who leads a mercenary force known as the Wagner Group, has taken on his most daring role yet: advocating for an armed uprising against Russia’s military leadership.

The move follows months of scathing criticism of Russia’s conduct in the war in Ukraine. Prigozhin, once a felon and hot-dog vendor, has a long history with Russian President Putin, but his recent rebellion has drawn attention and sparked a criminal investigation. While Prigozhin’s influence on Putin may be limited, his actions have created security concerns and tightened measures in Moscow.

In a recent video, Prigozhin passionately expressed his frustration with the Russian military’s incompetence and alleged lack of support for his Wagner Group. He claimed that his troops were being deprived of essential weapons and ammunition, leading to unnecessary casualties. « These are someone’s fathers and someone’s sons, » he declared, blaming the military brass for the dire situation.

As a former associate of Putin, Prigozhin had a successful business providing catering services to the Kremlin and supplying meals to public schools. However, he later expanded his ventures to include the Wagner Group, a mercenary force aligned with the Kremlin. The Wagner fighters have been involved in conflicts across Africa and have played a significant role in the war in Ukraine, fighting alongside the Russian army.

Prigozhin’s rebellion has not gone unnoticed by international entities. The United States, European Union, United Nations, and others have raised concerns about the Wagner Group’s activities, including allegations of involvement in election interference and exploiting conflicts for financial gain. The US Treasury Department has repeatedly imposed sanctions on Prigozhin and his associates in connection with these allegations.

While some reports have suggested Prigozhin’s growing influence and potential political aspirations, analysts caution against overestimating his relationship with Putin. Mark Galeotti, an expert in Russian security affairs, notes that Prigozhin is more of a staff member than a confidant, serving the Kremlin’s interests but not part of the inner circle.

Prigozhin’s rebellion and his call for an armed uprising against the Russian military leadership have stirred curiosity and concern. As the situation unfolds, questions arise about the potential implications for Russia’s stability and the extent of Prigozhin’s influence on the country’s political landscape.

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