Moscow troops laid mines to hurt Wagner forces — Prigozhin says

Wagner head Prigozhin in Ukraine war grounds

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, has allegedly accused pro-Moscow forces of laying explosives to hurt his soldiers as they withdrew from Bakhmut as part of a months-long verbal battle with the Russian military leadership.

After months of deadly combat and a significant death toll, Wagner mercenaries largely withdrew from the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut after Prigozhin announced their total control of the town. The Russian troops took control of Wagner’s positions in the damaged town, he reported.

Prigozhin said in a Telegram post that his troops had found twelve spots in the back where the Russian military ministry had hidden a variety of explosives, including hundreds of anti-tank mines.

The officers from the defence ministry said they had been given the go-ahead by their superiors when questioned about why the mines and explosives had been placed, according to Prigozhin.

“It was not necessary to plant these charges in order to deter the enemy, as it (the area in question) is in the rear area,” he said.

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“Therefore, we can assume that these charges were intended to meet the advancing units of Wagner,” Prigozhin said.

He stated that none of the devices detonated and nobody was injured.

“We assume this was an attempt at a public flogging.”

Another pro-Moscow officers who fought in Ukraine denounced the Wagner boss’s frequently profanity-laced criticism of the Russian military leadership, perhaps indicating widening divisions within the Kremlin’s partner forces in the war.

Adam Delimkhanov, a close supporter of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, addressed Prigozhin in a video message on Thursday using the diminutive of “Zhenya” and the common Russian form of you (“ty”) to portray the Wagner leader as a blogger who constantly yells.

“You have become a blogger who screams and shouts off to the whole world about all the problems,” Delimkhanov said. “Stop shouting, yelling and screaming,” he said.

“If you don’t understand, then you can contact us and tell us the place and the time, I, we will, explain to you what you don’t understand,” Delimkhanov said in the message to Prigozhin.

The message was then swiftly corrected by Dmitry Utkin, a former special forces officer who had worked for Russian military intelligence and was one of Wagner’s most senior fighters.

“Where did such familiarity come from: who gave you the right to use the address ‘ty’ and ‘Zhenya’?” Utkin said in a message which Prigozhin reposted on Telegram.

“Certain citizens should be put against a wall for the SHAME that we have,” Utkin said.

“We are always ready to talk man to man,” he said.

Although some of Prigozhin’s criticism of the Russian leadership was endorsed by the Chechen leader Kadyrov last year, their relationship has deteriorated since.

In recent times, Kadyrov, who is also close to Russian President Vladimir Putin, has refrained from joining in the criticism of the defence ministry.

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