The head of Russia’s infamous mercenary force, the Wagner Group, accused the Russian military of conducting missile strikes against its forces on Friday, saying “huge” numbers of Wagner troops had been killed.
In an audio message released by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s spokespeople, the Wagner chief made it clear that he intends to take the fight directly to Moscow, vowing for “revenge.”
This news comes shortly after Prigozhin accused Moscow of lying to the Russian public about the reason for invading Ukraine.
“The mentally ill scumbags decided: ‘It’s OK, we’ll throw in a few thousand more Russian men as cannon fodder. They’ll die under artillery fire, but we’ll get what we want,’” Prigozhin claimed.
In his audio address, Prigozhin said that he and his troops were ready to settle ongoing tensions between the mercenary group and the Russian Ministry of Defence, that is, until Russian forces attacked Wagner positions.
“We were ready to make concessions to the Defense Ministry, surrender our weapons,” Prigozhin said. “Today, seeing that we have not been broken, they conducted missile strikes at our rear camps.”
Prigozhin voiced his outrage over the attack, but in a far more dramatic turn, announced his intentions to topple some level of Russian leadership. Though, his fury seems to omit Russian President Vladimir Putin, focusing instead on Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff for the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov.
“Wagner Commanders’ Council made a decision: the evil brought by the military leadership of the country must be stopped,” Prigozhin declared.
Prigozhin went on to issue what seemed to be a warning to Russian troops and citizens alike, saying that anyone who attempts to resist the Wagner Group’s efforts for retribution will be considered a threat.
“Those, who destroyed today our guys, who destroyed tens, tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers will be punished. I’m asking: no one resist. Everyone who will try to resist, we will consider them a danger and destroy them immediately, including any checkpoints on our way. And any aviation that we see above our heads.”
Prigozhin’s statements seem to suggest the mercenary group will be waging its new war within Russian borders, encouraging civilians to remain in their homes.
“I’m asking everyone to remain calm, do not succumb to provocations, and remain in their houses. Ideally, those along our way, do not go outside. After we finished what we started, we will return to the frontline to protect our motherland.”
Despite this clear threat to the Russian Ministry of Defence, Prigozhin clarified in his radio address that “this is not a military coup, this is a march of justice.” That point was reaffirmed in a subsequent quote reported by news aggregator NoelReports. Though, this quote also suggested what appears to be revolutionary intent.
The Russian Ministry of Defence issued a public statement shortly after on Friday, dismissing Prigozhin’s claims entirely.
“All the messages and video footage distributed on social networks on behalf of E Prigozhin about the alleged ‘strike by the RF Ministry of Defense on the rear camps of PMC Wagner’ do not correspond to reality and are an informational provocation,” the Russian Ministry of Defence said.
Feature image posted by PMC Wagner on Telegram