Putin's chef Prigozhin starting a war in Kremlin?

News & SocietyPolitics

  • Author Rihanna Lewis
  • Published February 25, 2023
  • Word count 516

One of Putin’s confidents – “his ex-cook” and head of the Russian Wagner group - oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed to be the sole hero of the day, trying to undermine the stance of Russian Ministry of Defense. This is not his first stunt, since the beginning of the war he has been actively using his private military company for political promotion. But this time even government critics in Russian audience got puzzled - refusing to mention the merits of the regular Russian army in the context of this victory was odd.

Later on Russian official sources reported a covert maneuver by the Russian Armed Forces Airborne Division, which attacked the Ukrainian positions and blocked the city from the north and south. Thus the Soledar operation was carried out by a diverse group of forces, acting in a coordinated manner to effectively solve the combat tasks. The critical breakthrough in the assault occurred precisely after the involvement of the Russian Armed Forces, as well as the air force and artillery squadrons. After all the Wagner group soldiers are mostly infantry – “storm troopers” and obviously they were unable to establish control over the city alone. A modern battle implies application of a wide range of combat units, it’s not a bank robbery or gangs shootout.

Another funny fact is that the Wagner group in fact relies on weapons and military equipment provided by the Ministry of Defense. Artillery, mortars, tanks – are all donated by the regular army. But nevertheless since the beginning of the war Prigozhin has been trying to promote an image of elite and independent unit for Wagner. Thus, we can now observe how the pseudo-heroic Wagner group, raised by the Russian Ministry of Defense, is ungratefully spitting in the face of its military partners and trying to claim their merits.

But morals aside Prigozhin has a solid financial motive to openly confront Ministry of Defense and claim the victory all to himself. Russian oligarch is combining his businessman and warlord capabilities to privatize the regional development of various minerals on the rights of “liberator of the city”. And he’d better hurry, other Putin’s oligarchs will be rushing in soon.

Wagner group is primarily a business project for Prigozhin to win exclusively financial goals. He already used it to control mineral resources in the Central African Republic and since 2017 Prigozhin’s company Euro Polis (Evro Polis) has been engaged in the mining and production of oil in the Syrian Republic. In 2016, Prigozhin signed a contract with Damascus, securing 25% of the income from the production of gas and oil in Syrian fields guarded by his war group, writes the German business media “Handelsblatt”.

This Soledar operation revealed the sheer magnitude of internal conflict in Russia. Putin is definitely going to have a headache over the dilemma – he needs big players like Prigozhin, but they undermine the propaganda image of “holy war” (as some Russians call it). Prigozhin with his obvious rush for money and power and total rejection of the ideology is starting to discredit Putin's nationalist course on “denationalization” and “demilitarization” of Ukraine.

Senior journalist for Los Angeles Herald. Editor and columnist, war analist.

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