Prigozhin not in control of Wagner Group general staff, but is ‘only a media personality’
Prigozhin does not directly manage the staff of Wagner's PMC (Photo:chita.ru)
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the so-called warlord of the Russian Wagner mercenary company, has little control of its military command and is basically a figurehead for the group, Ukrainian military intelligence believes.
The Russian oligarch, who is said to be the founder of the Wagner Group private military company, “mostly plays the role of a media personality,” Andriy Usov, a spokesman for Ukraine's military intelligence directorate, Andriy Usov, said on Ukrainian national television on Jan. 29.
"Prigozhin primary plays media and political roles. He doesn't run (Wagner’s) combat units or the general staff," Usov said.
Yusov also stressed that Prigozhin is mainly responsible for funding Russian mercenaries.
Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because his companies are said to have provided catering services to the Kremlin regime of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, has been openly critical of the Russian regular army’s poor performance during its invasion of Ukraine.
This is said to have brought him into conflict with the Russian regular army, and its leadership – Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff and First Deputy Defense Minister General Valery Gerasimov.
Videos have also emerged of Prigozhin touring Russian prisons, offering convicts contracts as mercenaries – and their freedom if they see out six months of service.
Ukraine’s military says the Wagner mercenaries have suffered huge casualties during their assaults on the Ukrainian towns of Soledar and Bakhmut in Donetsk Oblast, with waves of poorly trained and equipped convicts being sent to assault Ukrainian defenses.
U.S. newspaper the New York Times reported on Jan. 24 that of 50,000 Wagner mercenaries sent to Ukraine, only 10,000 remain – the rest having either been killed, wounded, captured or gone missing.
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