Prigozhin continues to create rifts within Russia’s government – ISW

23 October 2022, 02:27 PM
Yevgeny Prigozhin (Photo:REUTERS/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool)

Yevgeny Prigozhin (Photo:REUTERS/Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool)

The owner of the Russian mercenary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is creating rifts within the Russian government by publicizing a line of fortifications in the northeast of Ukraine, the Institute for the Study ofWar's (ISW) assessment for Oct. 22 states.

According to the assessment, Prigozhin and Wagner-affiliated Telegram channels claimed that Russian officials had paused the extension of the fortifications that should have been run to Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, on the border with Ukraine near Kharkiv.

“Prigozhin accused the Russian bureaucracy — which he characterized as ‘bureaucrat-enemies’—of ‘directly opposing the interests of the population’ and not protecting the Russian population by supporting the construction of the line,” the message reads.

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ISW analysts speculated that Prigozhin might be attempting to amplify the demands of the Russian nationalist community, who repeatedly accused the Kremlin of failing to defend the border in Belgorod Oblast.

These fortifications would be intended to protect the border between Russia's Belgorod Oblast and Ukraine’s Sumy, Kharkiv, and Luhansk oblasts, but notably would not cover northern Luhansk Oblast up to the line of contact with the occupied territories, placing it at odds with Kremlin promises to defend all of the region.

According to other maps, the fortification line was supposed to defend the part of Luhansk Oblast that was occupied before the Feb. 24 full-scale invasion. The line is also supposed to cover the recently occupied settlements of Lysychansk, Zolote, and Popasna, but excludes Kreminna and Severodonetsk.

“Prigozhin and Wagner commanders are likely preparing to defend the positions they think they can realistically hold…and are likely not confident in Russia’s ability to defend settlements north of Lysychansk such as Kreminna and Svatove,” the ISW believes.

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