The chief of the Wagner mercenary group has claimed Russian President Vladimir Putin is being fed lies about ‘colossal’ battlefield failures in Ukraine by ‘mentally ill a**holes’ in Russia’s high command.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, an outspoken critic of the Russian army, said Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu is not telling Putin about the ‘thousands of destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles’ littering the streets of the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
He claimed Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian army, are bringing ‘total c**p’ to Putin’s desk and are refusing to tell the despot there are ‘colossal problems’ in Bakhmut.
Russia has repeatedly claimed Kyiv‘s counteroffensive is ‘failing’ and Russian troops have inflicted severe casualties on Ukrainian forces. But Prigozhin said the opposite was true with the ‘mentally ill b******* and a**holes’ in Russia’s high command sending thousands of men to their deaths as cannon fodder.
Moscow has also claimed its troops destroyed German-supplied Leopard 2 tanks in Ukraine but Prigozhin slammed such claims as ‘total nonsense’ and ‘lies’.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, an outspoken critic of the Russian army and its commanders, said Shoigu is not telling Putin about the ‘thousands of destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles’ littering the streets of the embattled Ukrainian city of Bakhmut
Ukrainian artillery batteries fire on the frontline as clashes continue near villages recaptured by the Ukrainian army in Donetsk, Ukraine on June 21
Prigozhin has claimed Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (pictured in the Kremlin on 21 June) is lying to President Vladimir Putin about ‘colossal’ battlefield failures in Ukraine
In his scathing speech, Prigozhin said the war in Ukraine was triggered by greedy oligarchs wanting even bigger fortunes – not by a threat of Nazism in the country as Putin claims.
And retired Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, a former commander of the US Army Europe, said that any reports that Ukrainian troops are ‘failing’ on the battlefield and have been forced to stop their counter-offensive is ‘utter nonsense’.
Hodges pointed to how Commander-in-Chief General Vallerii Zaluzhnyi ‘has, from the very beginning, been very disciplined about protecting information’ from the front lines about any battleground success.
‘And so, when I read reports saying this [Ukrainian counteroffensive] is a failure, they’re having to stop – this is utter nonsense,’ Hodges told Newsweek.
‘Because you couldn’t declare a failure more than you could declare victory based on what we are able to see,’ the former commander explained.
Prigozhin, whose mercenary troops have spent months fighting in Bakhmut on behalf of the Kremlin, also dismissed Russia’s claims that the army had inflicted heavy losses and the Ukrainian counteroffensive was failing.
He said Shoigu and the military command were ‘mentally ill a**holes’ who have slaughtered their own men with their incompetence.
‘Their plan was, we’ll throw a few thousands more Russian guys as meat,’ Prigozhin said. ‘They will die like dogs under artillery fire, but we will achieve our goal.’
The Wagner boss said his claims about Ukrainian advances in the Zaporizhzhia region hasn’t been reflected by the Russian Defence Ministry or the Kremlin because Shoigu is lying to Putin about Russia’s ‘colossal’ battlefield failures.
‘I’ll explain why [my words] differ [from the official data],’ Prigozhin said in an audio message, according to Newsweek. ‘Because they are bringing total c**p to the president’s desk, [it’s] shameless.
‘When we took Bakhmut, we let all military correspondents go there, you remember this well, so that they see the real state of affairs. No one talks about the thousands of destroyed tanks and armoured vehicles.
‘They don’t let anyone there [in Bakhmut], they don’t show anything precisely because there are colossal problems there.’
Prigozhin added: ‘Shoigu and Gerasimov have a simple approach: a lie needs to be monstrous to be believed in. This is what they do.’
The Wagner chief said once the war had started Shoigu killed thousands of Russian soldiers and didn’t ‘have enough balls’ to go near the front lines himself.
‘He sat like a coward in his office and at the end of the first day he was very surprised… why the troops could not advance. In the first days of the war, Shoigu killed thousands of Russian soldiers.
‘He destroyed the most combat-ready part of the army, and a very small part was combat-ready.’
Ukrainian artillerymen blow up Russian 2S1 Gvozdika howitzer in huge blast in Ukraine in undated footage. The footage was released by the 40th Artillery Brigades on Wednesday
A Ukrainian MSLR BM-21 ‘Grad’ fires towards Russian positions, near Bakhmut at the frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on June 21
‘Our holy war with those who offend the Russian people, who are trying to humiliate them, has turned into a racket, or rather into rat-mongering raised to…national ideology,’ said Prigozhin.
‘I arrived in Ukraine and asked the commanders on the ground why we do not count the number of killed and wounded soldiers. I was told that no one in the management is interested in this.
‘There are tasks to be completed. The number of dead will be counted after the war. No-one was interested in what it would take to achieve victory.’
The only way for Russian to win the war would be to axe the defence ministry, he said.
‘The Russian army is currently retreating in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia directions. The Ukrainians are pushing through the Russian army.
‘We wash ourselves with blood, no-one gives reserves, there is no management, there is still hysteria. What we are being told is a profound deception. The enemy soldiers are not destroyed, and save their equipment. But he doesn’t save ammo. Time is rapidly collapsing.’
Prigozhin said Putin failed to gather his top team around him at the start of the war, conducting all meetings remotely because of fears for his health.
Foreign leaders contacted Prigozhin ‘en masse and everyone asked one question: how could Russia have sunk into such a monstrous shame?’, the Wagner chief said.
He continued: ‘It’s a shame for Russia to get into such a deep [mess]. Everyone counted on a miracle, on tactical nuclear weapons, on a nuclear bomb that was about to be thrown on Warsaw.
‘But their balls are not [strong] enough. Weak grandfathers. They cannot get out of their comfort zone.’
Prigozhin also claimed the war was triggered by oligarchs wanting even bigger fortunes.
‘The oligarchs needed the war,’ he said. ‘It was needed by the clan that actually runs Russia today. This oligarchic clan, they get everything they can.
‘If this clan closes its foreign businesses, the state will immediately divide the domestic businesses and give them to it. That is why businessmen are put in jail, banks are shut down, so that the clan does not lose money.
‘They do not need the money. They have done everything for themselves a long time ago. Clinics with special machines to prevent him from getting cancer and everything else. To live as long as possible.
‘This oligarchic elite thinks only about one thing, how to live as long as possible and that the body is in as good a condition as possible. It’s their brain disease.
‘They don’t think about the country, people, war, or anything but themselves.’
Prigozhin claimed Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian army, are bringing ‘total c**p’ to Putin’s desk and are refusing to tell the despot there are ‘colossal problems’ in Bakhmut.
Russian missiles struck a hospital in Dnipro, Ukraine, on 26 May
Prigozhin’s latest rant came after he slammed claims by the Russian defence ministry it had killed 1,500 of Kyiv’s soldiers in two days in the embattled city of Bakhmut as ‘absurd science fiction’.
Russia’s defence ministry had claimed earlier this month that Russian forces had repelled two major offensives in South Donetsk.
It claimed to have killed 1,500 troops and destroyed among other military equipment, eight main battle Leopard tanks supplied to Ukraine by its Western allies and 109 armoured vehicles.
‘Having suffered heavy losses the day before, the Kiev regime reorganized the remnants of the 23rd and 31st mechanized brigades into separate consolidated units, which continued offensive operations,’ the ministry said on Telegram.
‘A complex fire defeat was inflicted by army forces, assault and operational-tactical aviation, missile forces and artillery, as well as heavy flamethrower systems.’
But this was quickly, and very publicly, doubted by Prigozhin, who has repeatedly lambasted senior officials in the Kremlin, the Russian Army and Vladimir Putin himself for perceived missteps in the war effort.
In remarks published on the Telegram channel of his press service, the 61-year-old said to kill that many Ukrainian troops would require daily gains of 150km (93 miles).
‘I therefore believe that this is simply wild and absurd science fiction,’ said Prigozhin.
Totting up the figures provided by the ministry would imply ‘we have already destroyed the entire planet five times over,’ he added sarcastically.
And last week, Prigozhin resisted an attempt by Shoigu to take control of its ranks. The Wagner chief said his fighters would not sign any contract with the Defence Minister, publicly defying what appear to be efforts to rein in his influence.
Prigozhin has repeatedly attacked Shoigu for what he casts as treachery, slamming him for failing to fight the war in Ukraine properly and taunting him about coming to the frontline.
Tensions with Moscow were ratcheted up when mercenaries kidnapped a frontline Russian general earlier this week, who admitted in a humiliating video to being drunk on duty after allegedly firing on a Wagner vehicle.
Russian Lt-Colonel Roman Venevitin claimed Wagner forces, who are supposed to be on Russia’s side in the war, kidnapped Russian soldiers before torturing and raping them
A video later emerged which showed the general, Roman Venevitin, accusing Wagner of torturing Putin‘s soldiers and Prigozhin of discrediting the army – a crime which could see him jailed.
In the video from earlier this month, which was reportedly orchestrated by Russian military leaders after Venevitin was released, Venevitin said of Prigozhin: ‘You are engaged in active discrediting of the Russian armed forces.
‘I [am speaking] to convey to the Russian public the truth about what happened, to tell some facts about the so-called Wagner,’ he said. ‘Honour requires me to do this.’
This allegation, which Venevitin appears to read from a script, hints that the authorities are attempting to disempower Prigozhin, who slammed the allegations about his troops’ violence towards Russian ranks as ‘absolute nonsense’.
Russia’s defence ministry has since urged all ‘volunteer detachments’ to sign contracts with the defence ministry by the end of the month, a step it said would increase the effectiveness of the Russian army.
Though the ministry did not mention Wagner by name in its public statement, the Russian media reported that it was an attempt by Shoigu to bring the mercenaries to heel.