Russia's Wagner Group chief threatens to pull his mercenary army from fighting in Ukraine if war efforts continue to be 'led by clowns who turn people into meat'

Yevgeny Prigozhin
Russian billionaire and businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, continues to criticize the Kremlin.

  • Prigozhin has said his group will not continue fighting in Ukraine if leadership doesn't improve.

  • The Wagner Group, which has taken heavy losses in Ukraine, is in the process of leaving Bakhmut.

The leader of the Russian Wagner Group said his mercenary army will not continue fighting in Ukraine if the war effort continues to be "led by clowns who turn people into meat."

Yevgeny Prigozhin, who was previously a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has become increasingly critical of the Kremlin's war efforts. Wagner, the private army founded by Prigozhin, has experienced heavy losses fighting in Ukraine.

"If the whole chain (of command) is 100% failed and will only be led by clowns who turn people into meat, then we will not participate in it," Prigozhin at a training camp on Thursday, Reuters reported. Prigozhin also said it had been "a tough year" and that confirmed the Wagner Army would be leaving Bakhmut on June 5 and replaced by Russian troops.

Russia last month claimed victory in Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine that had been at the center of the fighting for months. An analysis by The Institute for the Study of War said that the Wagner Group pulling out of Bakhmut and the Russian army moving in could leave an opening for Ukraine to retake the city.

Prigozhin said his fighters would only continue fighting in Ukraine if they were given a separate section on the frontlines and did not have to follow Russian army leadership, Reuters reported. He also said his fighters will remain in the Donbas region for a month before further decisions were made.

Prigozhin has made his dissatisfaction with the Kremlin known for months. He again let loose on Russian leaders this week after a rare drone attack struck Moscow on Tuesday.

"Why the fuck are you allowing these drones to fly to Moscow?" Prigozhin complained in a tirade directed at the Russian Defense Ministry, according to Reuters, adding: "Let your houses burn."

Igor Girkin, a former Russian Federal Security Service officer, has said the Wagner Group could pose an active threat to Putin's power and attempt to overthrow him.

But Prigozhin has denied any plans for a coup, saying his army would not be strong enough to topple Putin and he would just like to see some reforms in Russia.

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