The Wagner group calls on the Russians to pressure the army to provide them with ammunition

The Wagner group calls on the Russians to pressure the army to provide it with ammunition


The boss of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner on Wednesday urged the Russians to pressure the army to provide ammunition to his men, an unprecedented call which illustrates the extent of the tensions between the mercenaries and the Russian General Staff. 

“If every Russian at his level – to (avoid) calling anyone to demonstrate – simply said 'Give Wagner shells', (…) then it would already be important”, declared the man of Evguéni Prigojine affairs in an audio recording broadcast by his press service.

This call is unprecedented in Russia, where criticism, even individual, of the Kremlin or the army is harshly repressed .

Mr. Prigozhin has for several days accused the Russian high command of not providing ammunition to his men who are on the front line in the battle for the city of Bakhmout in eastern Ukraine.

“If the driver tells his boss to give Wagner shells; if the stewardess at boarding says to give shells to Wagner; (…) If the presenter says live to give shells to Wagner, we will break them and force them to stop doing anything, ”said Mr. Prigojine, attacking the Russian military hierarchy .

“We will force them to give us shells,” he insisted. “There are shells. But it takes politicians, bastards, garbage to affix their signatures” for them to be delivered, carried away Mr. Prigojine.

These statements by Mr. Prigojine mark a new escalation in the tensions between his Wagner group and the Russian army, competing on the ground in Ukraine.

Tensions have become increasingly visible in recent weeks as Russian forces attempt to seize Bakhmout, with the military and Wagner each claiming advances while at times contradicting each other.

Tuesday, M Prigozhin had previously accused Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, two of President Vladimir Putin's main power figures, of committing “treason” by not delivering the ammunition demanded by Wagner.

According to him, the objective is to let Wagner be “destroyed” on the battlefield. Mr. Prigozhin also claimed that his group suffered “hundreds of casualties” every day due to lack of ammunition.

The Russian Ministry of Defense responded to these accusations on Tuesday with a press release detailing the number of ammunition supplied according to him to the “voluntary assault squadrons”, a name that the army seems to use to designate Wagner.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on this conflict.< /p>

In Russia, criticizing the Russian military is punishable by 15 years in prison. Several opponents and anonymous people are imprisoned under this law.