Prigozhin conducts an information campaign to justify the reduction in the number of “Wagner” PMC due to heavy losses near Bakhmut.
In just two days, Yevgeny Prigozhin issued two controversial statements in the public square. The first, a call to Ukraine regarding the withdrawal of troops from Bakhmut, the filming of which was simulated, the second – already regarding the departure of the “Wagner” PMC from the Ukrainian city.
In fact, PMC “Wagner” fulfilled its role near Bakhmut – to saturate the front with “cannon fodder”.
But in the public space, Prigozhin prepared a media campaign that significantly overestimates the achievements of the “Wagner” mercenaries and tries to appropriate the situational advances on this section of the front.
However, the combat effectiveness of “Wagner” fell, due to which the influence of the cook himself decreased. And in the best traditions of Russian propaganda, Prigozhin presents the destruction of the mercenaries as their removal from positions due to the pressure of the Shoigu. The latter allegedly did not give ammunition at first, but now he wants to “steal the Wagner`s glory”.
An attempt by the handsome man to oust Shoigu
Prigozhin secured Putin’s support for active participation in the war in Ukraine in the summer of 2022. This happened against the background of the exhaustion of the Russian army after the battles for Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, which led to further defeats in the Kharkiv region.
Then Prigozhin convinced Putin of the ineffective strategy of the Russian military leadership. This led to the de facto removal of Dvornikov, the then commander of the Russian troops in Ukraine, from commanding the troops of the invasion. He was officially suspended on October 8, 2022, and his place was taken by Surovikin, who is a creature of beauty.
And it was in the summer that Prigozhin received carte blanche from Putin regarding the recruitment of prisoners and increased funding for the more active involvement of his PMC in Ukraine. This is motivated by the fact that at that time Putin did not want to carry out a general mobilization of the Russian population and believed that Prigozhin would be able to change the situation at the front.
At that moment, the cook had already started a media campaign against Shoigu, in which he was supported by Kadyrov. Both had ambitions to take control of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and master unlimited military budgets.
But the situation turned out to be the opposite, and Shoigu already used it. Which showed the ineffectiveness of mercenaries in numbers. In parallel, together with their loyal subordinate, the Chief of the General Staff of the USSR Gerasimov, they started a series of checks inside the army, in order to discredit the creature of Prigozhin – Surovikin.
As a result, Gerasimov took Surovikin’s place and Prigozhin lost support. In addition, Prigozhin has run out of human resources, since December 2022 he cannot recruit a sufficient number of prisoners to his ranks.
Chef`s political ambitions
Prigozhin’s prospects have faltered, but not his ambitions, which have grown against the background of the development of his PMC over the past six months. During this time, the handsome man raised his recognition and gained confidence.
It is obvious that chef Putin would like to capitalize on his efforts. And not least in the political arena, because he needs a bridgehead for the future struggle for power.
Now he is trying to overthrow his old enemy – the governor of St. Petersburg Beglov. Prigozhin understands that the feudal war for Putin’s inheritance has begun and wants to take control of one of the key cities of the Russian Federation. And the presence of influence over St. Petersburg and its own PMC is a good start for the fight for a place in the Kremlin.
Now the main mercenary faces two tasks: to preserve his feudal army and at the same time prevent Shoigu from throwing him on the page of history. As a result, the cook resorts to blackmail and shakes up the situation inside the Russian Federation itself.