Prigozhin: conflict with the Chechens settled
Prigozhin: Kremlin factions endanger the state
The Ministry of Defense is in chaos
Wagner can go to the Belgorod – Prigozhin region
By Guy Faulconbridge
MOSCOW, June 3 (Reuters) – Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday Kremlin factions were destroying the state by trying to sow discord between him and Chechen fighters.
That dispute was now settled, but infighting in the Kremlin had opened a Pandora’s box of rifts, he said.
Prigozhin, a 62-year-old former restaurateur who founded the Wagner mercenary group and is part of President Vladimir Putin’s wider circle, rose to prominence during Ukraine’s 15-month war.
His troops fought battles in the town of Bakhmut and elsewhere, but he also rowed with the Russian army on tactics, logistical support and other issues.
Prigozhin said a dispute between him and Chechen forces who are also fighting alongside the Russian military in Ukraine has been resolved. But he blamed the discord on unidentified Kremlin factions – which he calls the “Kremlin Towers”.
Their scheming had gotten so out of hand that Putin was forced to reprimand them at a Security Council meeting, he said.
“Pandora’s box is already open – we didn’t open it,” Prigozhin said in a message released by his press service. “Some towers in the Kremlin have decided to play dangerous games.”
“Dangerous games have become commonplace in the towers of the Kremlin… they only destroy the Russian state.”
He did not identify the Kremlin faction but said as they continued their attempts to sow discord they would have “hell to pay”. The Kremlin did not comment on his remarks.
Putin held a Security Council meeting Friday on what he called “inter-ethnic” relations inside the country.
Prigozhin said the Chechen remarks made about him sounded like something from the early 1990s, when strife gripped Russian cities after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“Obviously the statements made were rather provocative, aimed at hurting and scaring me,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin also said that any battle between Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s Akhmat special forces and Wagner would result in serious bloodshed, but there was no doubt who would win.
He also again expressed his anger at the current state of the war and the culpability of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
“The Ministry of Defense is in no condition to do anything because it de facto does not exist – it is in chaos,” Prigozhin said.
The Department of Defense did not respond to a request for comment. Niether Shoigu nor Gerasimov publicly commented on Prigozhin’s comments.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Angus MacSwan)