11.7 C
Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Wagner Boss probably fabricated report on Putin plotting against him: ISW

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said Thursday he received a press inquiry about an alleged conspiracy backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin aimed at undermining his mercenary organization.

But the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) believes that Prigozhin invented the question and the alleged conspiracy. The think tank said Prigozhin likely did so to bolster his own reputation and to advance “the next development” of his “campaign against the Russian military establishment,” according to ISW.

Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch who founded and funded the Wagner Group, has become a recognized figure in the war in Ukraine. In the final months of 2022, his forces are tasked with helping Russia make progress on the battlefield Prigozhin attracted controversy for his alleged brutal tactics and recruitment of convicts from prisons.

During Wagner’s rise to power in Ukraine, Prigozhin has also publicly aired his dirty laundry with Russian military officials, including his recent claim that he was cut off from all Russian government communications channels over his appeals for more ammunition.

Prigozhin is said to have once been a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, the ISW wrote earlier this year that a rift had developed between the two over Prigozhin’s frequent criticism of Russia’s defense ministry.

The ISW has also previously written about possible Kremlin efforts to weaken Prigozhin’s power. Thursday’s assessment said Prigozhin’s news of the alleged conspiracy was an attempt on his part to counter such efforts.

On Thursday, the Telegram channel of the Prigozhin press service published an alleged request for comment from the Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta. The newspaper’s alleged inquiry was whether Prigozhin was aware of alleged talks between Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev about the Wagner Group.

According to the alleged press release, Patrushev told Putin that “there would be nothing left” of Prigozhin’s military group in “one and a half to two months”. The embassy went on to say that Prigozhin would use the remnants of Wagner’s troops to advance into “the territory of Russia to seize power in the regions bordering Ukraine with a possible advance inland.”

According to the alleged request, Patrushev told Putin that he had been monitoring the Wagner group, and Putin thanked him for working to “neutralize Wagner in general and Yevgeny Prigozhin in particular.”

In response to the alleged request, Prigozhin released an audio clip. ISW reported that he said in the audio that he hadn’t heard about the conspiracy, but felt that Russian special services should make efforts to thwart any threats to Russia, including such conspiracy discussions spreading through Telegram and other platforms could.

In its assessment of the notice, ISW wrote that it “did not observe any information to suggest that the talks took place, nor did ISW detect any speculation in the Russian information space about them.”

Next said ISW Nezivisimaya Gazeta did not mention the press comment on its website, and the think tank could not find evidence of the alleged press comment existing anywhere other than the Telegram channel for the Prigozhin press service.

“The lack of external corroboration on this issue suggests that Prigozhin fabricated the alleged conspiracy to advance multiple information operations on behalf of Wagner and his own reputation,” ISW wrote.

It added that the exchange attempted to portray Patrushev as a conspiracy against Prigozhin with “a made-up scenario” that Wagner characterized as “a direct domestic threat to Russia.”

After Prighozhin’s previous efforts to discredit other Russian officials — notably Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu — he may have targeted Patrushev as an opponent, the ISW wrote.

For its part, the Kremlin does not often comment on Prigozhin or the Wagner group. When asked by reporters about the mercenary boss in October, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the mercenary leader as a “simple Russian citizen” who is making “a large, realizable contribution” to his country.

news week contacted the Russian Foreign Ministry for comment.

Latest news
Related news


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here