Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder and leader of Wagner Group, a private military company that has been fighting in Ukraine on behalf of Russia, has expressed his doubts about the possibility of winning the war and his fears of self sabotage from within his own ranks.
In a recent interview with a Russian media outlet, Prigozhin said he was considering withdrawing his forces from Ukraine and focusing on other regions where Wagner operates, such as Africa and the Middle East.
Prigozhin, who is also known as “Putin’s Chef” for his close ties to the Russian president, said he was frustrated by the lack of support and coordination from the Russian military and political leadership, which he accused of incompetence and corruption.
He said he had repeatedly clashed with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other top generals over the strategy and tactics of the war, especially in the key city of Bakhmut, where Wagner suffered heavy casualties and failed to capture the strategic position.
Prigozhin also claimed that some elements within Wagner were working against him and trying to undermine his authority and reputation. He said he had evidence of sabotage, betrayal and espionage among some of his commanders and fighters, who he suspected of being paid by Ukrainian or Western intelligence agencies. He said he had ordered an internal investigation and purge of his ranks, and vowed to punish anyone who was found guilty of treason.
Prigozhin said he was not afraid of Putin’s reaction to his possible withdrawal from Ukraine, as he believed he had done enough to serve Russia’s interests and earn Putin’s respect.
He said he was ready to face any consequences for his decision, but hoped that Putin would understand his reasons and support him. He said he still considered himself a loyal patriot and a friend of Putin, but also a pragmatic businessman who had to protect his own interests and assets.