Russian troops ‘ran as fast as they could’ as they fled their positions on the frontline in Ukraine, the head of the Wagner mercenary group has claimed in his latest rant targeting the Kremlin’s military chiefs.
Yevgeny Prigozhin – until now a close ally of Vladimir Putin – savaged the tactics of Russia’s war commanders and compared Moscow’s forces with a fish that was rotting from the head.
And he even threatened to ignore Moscow’s warning that he and his men would face treason charges if they abandoned their frontline positions – blaming Russia’s defence ministry for failing to supply them with ammunition.
In his latest seething rant – just a week after publishing a grisly video with his slain men piled behind him in the background – Prigozhin vowed to leave unless he received a replenishment of supplies.
Prigozhin’s latest video came as Vladimir Putin presided over a vast Victory Day military parade in Moscow’s Red Square where he continued to spurt claims that Russia wanted peace and accused the ‘western elite’ of waging a ‘real war’ against his forces in Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin savaged the tactics of the Kremlin war commanders and compared Moscow’s forces with a fish that was rotting from the head
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu salutes to President Vladimir Putin during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in central Moscow today
Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during a Victory Day military parade on Red Square today
Ukrainian soldier of the Aidar battalion fires artillery in the direction of Bakhmut in Donetsk oblast, 4 April 2023
In his astonishing broadside, Prigozhin accused the regular army forces – under defence minister Sergei Shoigu – of turning and fleeing from Ukrainian forces, leaving the frontline exposed.
Prigozhin, who has grown increasingly comfortable challenging 70-year-old Putin’s authority, said: ‘Yesterday we received a military order which stated several important moments.
‘First, if we leave our positions this would be seen as state treason.’
But he made clear: ‘If there will be no ammunition, we will leave. And we will ask the question who is the traitor to the motherland here…’
He has repeatedly demanded more ammunition from the defence ministry yet despite promises it has not arrived.
It is the second time in several days he has threatened to pull his ragtag army of mercenaries and convicts out of Bakhmut – even though they have been far more successful than Putin’s regular force in the war against Ukraine.
He rescinded an original plan to pull out tomorrow [10 May] when promised more ammunition, but now says no ammunition has been received – only a threat to charge deserters with state treason.
‘Today one of the Ministry of Defence’s detachments ran away from one of the flanks,’ said a raging Prigozhin. They abandoned their positions.
‘All of them ran away, and they bared the frontline nearly 2 kilometres [1.25 miles], 500 metres [1,640ft] deep.’
Prigozhin, a catering billionaire who branched out into running both pro-Putin propaganda and a pro-Kremlin private military force, added: ‘It was good we just about managed to provide cover….’
In his latest seething rant, Prigozhin vowed his forces would leave unless promised a replenishment of military supplies
Prigozhin has repeatedly demanded more ammunition from the defence ministry yet despite promises it has not arrived
‘If there will be no ammunition, we will leave. And we will ask the question who is the traitor to the motherland here,’ Prigozhin said
Prigozhin accused the regular army forces – under defence minister Sergei Shoigu – of turning and fleeing from Ukrainian forces. Pictured: General Valery Gerasimov, left, Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu (right)
In last week’s video, Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of Wagner private mercenary army, pointed to piles of dead mercenaries as he rages against the Russian defence minister
Prigozhin then turned to blasting the defence ministry. The 61-year-old said on video: ‘We have a Ministry of Intrigues instead of the Ministry of Defence.
‘This is why our army is fleeing. They are fleeing because brigade number 72 have lost the area of the front about 3 square kilometres [1.15 square miles] in size with the loss of 500 men.
‘This was a strategic area for the strong. And they simply ran away.
‘This is not the problem of soldiers, but of those who manage them and set their tasks.
‘A fish rots from its head, and if decision-making is done through the ****, soldiers leave because there is no point to die in vain.’
The regular army soldiers ‘ran as fast as they could’, alleged Prigozhin in comments which could see him jailed under Putin’s draconian laws forbidding criticisms of the military.
He asked: ‘And how many hundreds of men [were] killed in this land for it to be liberated.’
Prigozhin echoes the feelings of other military figures who question why a huge parade was allowed today when the frontline is failing to gain ground .
His blast comes as Ukraine is widely expected to start its long-expected Spring counter offensive.