Victory claims over small Ukrainian town expose rift among Russian forces


A rare Russian claim of military victory in eastern Ukraine has sparked. A bitter dispute between Moscow’s military chief. And the head of a private mercenary group fighting in the region.

Two days after Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin announced. That troops from his irregular private army had seized control of. The small salt-mining town of Soledar, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced. The victory Friday in a statement that made no mention of the mercenaries. .

The lack of appreciation for his group’s role in. What would be Russia’s biggest battlefield success in months. Drew a sharp response from Prigogine.

The billionaire former restaurateur.

And ally of President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in Soledar. On Wednesday, and the Wagner Group posted a photo. Showing Prigogine with fighters in the town’s salt mine.

In an interview with Russian broadcaster RTVI on Friday. Prigogine accused the military of “trying to steal Wagner’s victory”.

H Andrey Troshev, told Telegram that he was surprised by. The ministry’s statement because. “Soledar was only taken by the efforts of Wagner PMC fighters.”

Within hours, a second Russian Defense Ministry statement to “clarify.” The situation said “the mission was accomplished by. The brave and selfless actions. Of the volunteer assault unit of the Wagner private military company.”

Ukrainian officials insisted on Friday that its troops held parts of.  President Volodymyr Zelensky. Said in his late-night video address that the war “will continue.”

He mocked the Russians for “fighting among themselves over.

Who should be credited for some strategic breakthrough. ” Saying it was “a clear signal of the enemy’s failure”.

After a series of embarrassing setbacks. The spat overshadowed the Kremlin’s first battlefield success in months.

It came within a week of the Defense Ministry. Announcing it was replacing its commander in Ukraine. After three months in charge. General Valery Gerasimov took over from General Sergei Surovykin. Who will now serve as one of Gerasimov’s deputies.

Prigogine has before accused Gerasimov. Who was involved in the main planning of the invasion. Of incompetence, and he has criticized the military brass for mistakes in Ukraine.

He has found a powerful ally in Chechnya’s leader. Ramzan Kadyrov. who has deployed elite troops from his southern Russian. Region to fight in Ukraine and attacked. The military leadership and the Kremlin for being too soft and indecisive.

While both have pledged loyalty to Putin.

Their public attacks on his top generals have challenged. The Kremlin’s monopoly on such criticism, which Russia’s controlled. Political system has not seen before.

Frank Ledwise, a senior lecturer in military capabilities. And strategy at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. Told NBC News on Saturday that Gerasimov’s appointment. Showed that Putin “sees a threat” from the pair.

To “avoid blame for further military disasters”.

Prigozhin, who traveled to Russia’s penal colonies to recruit prisoners in September. Promising donations and pardons in exchange for service. Has been offering volunteers higher salaries.

Once imprisoned himself after being found guilty of assault.

And robbery, Prigozhin recently released a video showing about 20 convicts.  After half a year on the front lines, and also made it clear that anyone would break ranks. . Face brutal punishment.

For Rajan Menon, a director at the Washington think tank Defense Priorities. The recent coup suggests “there is massive chaos at the top of the Russian. Government and the positions of power.”

He said a conflict between the Defense Ministry and mercenary. Warlords could benefit Putin, who could act as “an arbitrator. Who hands things over to different groups,” but he said it would be “destabilizing.”


“Putin has not been vulnerable for some time, if ever,” he said. “

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