- Prigozhin: settlement of the conflict with Chechnya
- Prigozhin: The Kremlin factions endanger the state
- It says the Ministry of Defense is a mess
- Wagner may go to the Belgorod-Prigozhin region
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday that Kremlin factions are destroying the country by trying to sow discord between him and Chechen fighters.
That dispute has now been settled, he said, but the infighting in the Kremlin has opened a Pandora’s box of divisions.
Prigozhin, 62, a former restaurateur who founded the Wagner mercenary group and a member of President Vladimir Putin’s wider circle, gained widespread notoriety during the 15-month war in Ukraine.
His forces led battles in the city of Bakhmut and elsewhere, but he also argued with the Russian army over tactics, logistical support, and other issues.
Prigozhin said the dispute between him and the Chechen forces, who are also fighting alongside the Russian army in Ukraine, had been resolved. But he blamed the row on anonymous factions in the Kremlin – which he calls the “Kremlin towers”.
Their scheming got so out of hand, he said, that Putin was forced to reprimand them at a Security Council meeting.
“Pandora’s Box is already open – it was not we who opened it,” Prigozhin said in a message published by his press service. “Some Kremlin towers decided to play dangerous games.”
“Risk games are becoming commonplace in the towers of the Kremlin… They are simply destroying the Russian state.”
He did not name the Kremlin faction, but said it continues its attempts to sow discord, and “hell will have to pay the price.” The Kremlin did not comment on his statements.
Putin convened a Security Council meeting on Friday about what he described as “ethnic” relations inside the country.
Prigozhin said Chechen statements about him seemed to date back to the early 1990s, when conflicts engulfed Russian cities after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“It is clear that the statements made were somewhat provocative, intended to hurt and frighten me,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin also said that any battle between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s special forces and Wagner’s forces would lead to serious bloodshed, but there was no doubt who would win.
He also once again expressed his outrage over the current state of the war and condemned Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
“The Ministry of Defense is not in a position to do anything at all because it doesn’t really exist – it’s a mess,” Prigozhin said.
The Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for comment. Nether Shoigu and Gerasimov have commented publicly on Prigozhin’s comments.
(Reporting by Jay Faulconbridge). Editing by Angus McSwan
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