Accused of 'Treason,' Moscow to Give Wagner More Ammo

Leader of mercenary group is feuding with Russian military leaders
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2023 6:53 AM CST
Wagner Group Leader Is Feuding With Russian Military
Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin attends the funeral of fighter Dmitry Menshiko at the Beloostrovskoye cemetery outside St. Petersburg, Russia, on Dec. 24, 2022.   (AP Photo, File)

On the eve of the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow is dealing with a public feud between the head of the Wagner Group and military leadership. Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the mercenary group, said Thursday said that after putting pressure on Russia's defense ministry, he had been told more ammunition is on the way, Reuters reports. "You saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives of guys who are defending their homeland," he said. Earlier this week, Prigozhin accused military chiefs of "high treason" and claimed that his fighters were being starved of ammunition because the military wanted to see his organization wiped out, Guardian reports.

On Tuesday, the defense ministry said allegations that fighters were being deprived of ammunition were "completely untrue" but Prigozhin stepped up his campaign. On Wednesday, he posted a graphic image of dozens of dead Wagner fighters in eastern Ukraine. "These are guys who have died because of so-called 'shell hunger,'" he said. "There should be five times fewer of them." The BBC reports that Prigozhin, a catering tycoon, has long had close ties to Vladimir Putin but analysts believe he has fallen out of favor with the Russian president amid increased rivalry between the Wagner Group and the Russian military.

Wagner, which has recruited heavily from Russian prisons, is believed to have lost thousands of fighters in the battle for Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. Prigozhin has frequently criticized military leaders including Valery Gerasimov, Russia's top general. Gerasimov was put in control of Russian forces in Ukraine last month in what some saw as an attempt to "cut Prigozhin down to size," the AP reports. In his address to the nation Tuesday, Putin said he wanted infighting like "interdepartmental contradictions" and other "nonsense" to stop. He thanked the military during his address but made no mention of Wagner. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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