Leaked U.S. files show deep rift between Russian military and Wagner chief

By | May 6, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

Wagner boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s threat to pull his forces from Bakhmut, relayed in obscenity-ridden videos in which he blames Russian military chiefs for the deaths of tens of thousands of his soldiers in Ukraine, was only the latest salvo in a months-long feud between the mercenary group and Russia’s military leadership for influence in the war and glory on the battlefield.

While Prigozhin has led Russia’s bloody campaign to capture the eastern Ukrainian city using soldiers of fortune and recently freed convicts, he’s also been locked in a public fight with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, who he says have denied his forces ammunition and manpower.

Previously unreported U.S. intelligence documents allegedly leaked by National Guard airman Jack Teixeira on the Discord platform indicate that the military leadership struggled to respond to Prigozhin, and the outspoken Wagner chief appealed personally to President Vladimir Putin to intervene.

His rants suggest that his pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and the threat to abandon the fight in Bakhmut — the longest, fiercest battle in the war — are a last-ditch effort to cling to a prominent role in the invasion.

It’s unclear if it will work. Prigozhin set May 10 as the deadline for the withdrawal of his fighters.

Prigozhin made similar accusations in February, voicing complaints about a shortage of ammunition in interviews with pro-war military bloggers on Telegram and then posting a photo of what he said was a pile of dead mercenaries and blaming army chiefs for inadequate supplies.

The leaked documents indicate that Russia’s military leadership was frustrated by Prigozhin’s bitter public attacks, and debated how to quash his criticism.

Defense Ministry officials considered launching a public campaign to discredit Prigozhin through a proxy, according to the documents. [Continue reading…]