Ukraine: Yevgeny Prigozhin visits bodies of Wagner fighters
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the infamous Wagner Group, would “absolutely” reveal Russian troop positions to Ukraine if it benefited him, a Russian military expert has claimed. And Nikiolay Petrov also said Prigozhin only remained loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin because he needs him – at least for the moment.
Mr Petrov, a Senior Research Fellow, with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, was speaking after leaked US intelligence documents suggested Prigozhin earlier this year offered to provide Kyiv with information on Russias troop positions which it could use to attack them, in exchange for an agreement to withdraw Ukrainian troops from the eastern city of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin allegedly made his proposal to contacts in Ukraine’s military intelligence directorate, with whom he has continued to communicate since Putin’s invasion on February 24, 2022, according to documents posted on the Discord group-chat platform.
In recent months, Prigozhin has made little secret of his disdain for Russian military commanders including defence minister Sergei Shoigu – while carefully avoiding criticism of Putin himself.
However, Mr Petrov suggested the 61-year-old “absolutely” would share information with the Ukrainians if he concluded it would help him.
He told Express.co.uk: “Prigozhin himself is a criminal and his survival is just a matter of political expediency for the Kremlin.
“Prigozhin is loyal until he needs Putin, depends on him and is afraid of him – nothing personal.”
Of the latest reports, he added: “In my view there is not that much solid information there. It’s understandable that Ukrainian HUR and Russian GRU are conspiring against each other and it’s too early to make any serious conclusions.
“What we know for sure is that Ukrainian leadership in February changed its mind with regard to Bakhmut and contrary to any advice coming from the West decided to keep the town by all means.
“We can only speculate whether this is justified or not. What we know for sure it’s that Ukrainian forces are now reactive rather than proactive and their offensive hasn’t come yet.”
Mr Petrov has also outlined his thoughts in an op-ed written for the independent Russia Post newspaper.
In his conclusion, he describes Putin as “a skilled populist, who also relies on a powerful branched media structure in the form of a large number of telegram channels, military enlistments, and a ‘troll factory’.”
He adds: “His speech, interspersed with obscene vocabulary, seems much smoother, logical and reasonable in contrast to the very low initial expectations associated with his appearance and criminal biography.
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“According to the head of the Levada Center Denis Volkov, ‘at the end of last year and at the beginning of this year, Prigozhin began to appear in open polls among politicians who are trusted.
“First of all, the patriots-hawks who support the offensive, the fighting, began to recognise him.”
Prigozhin last week launched a scathing attack on the Russian army, accusing them of giving up without a fight in Bakhmut.
He posted on Telegram: “The situation on the flanks is developing according to the worst predictions.
“The territories that our comrades gave their blood and their lives to win, gaining dozens or hundreds of meters daily, are today being lost without a fight by those who should be holding our flanks.”
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