Wagner boss Prigozhin says Putin’s plan to ‘demilitarise’ Ukraine has failed as Ukraine now has one of the ‘strongest’ armies

Ukrainian soldiers fire cannons near Bakhmut, an eastern town where fierce fighting against Russian forces is taking place, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, May 15, 2023.AP Photo/Libkos

  • Putin has made denazification and demilitarization key objectives of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

  • But those efforts failed, said the Wagner Group founder.

  • “The Ukrainians are one of the strongest armies today,” Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview.

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said this week that Russia had failed to achieve one of its main goals, the demilitarization of Ukraine, and had in fact bolstered Kiev’s military through its invasion. .

“So how did we demilitarize? It turns out, on the contrary, we militarized Ukraine,” Prigozhin said in a video interview now circulating on social media.

Prigozhin, who in recent months has repeatedly fired at the Russian Defense Ministry and Russian failures in Ukraine, said Kiev had gained more troops and more weapons since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine. by Russia last year.

He calls “demilitarization” a “sensitive point”, according to a translation of the video published on Twitter on Wednesday by Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Ukrainian Minister of the Interior.

The nod to demilitarization refers to one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main ambitions during the unprovoked assault on Ukraine in February 2022. At the time, Putin announced a “special military operation with the aim of “demilitarizing and denazifying” Ukraine, a democratic country. country ruled by a Jewish president.

Prigozhin said his mercenaries fought in “many places” and against “many people”, including American, French and United Nations troops in the various locations where Wagner tried to operate covertly before his role. in Ukraine quickly propelled the group into the public. eye in a major way.

In a baseless claim, he said Wagner was the “best army in the world”, despite suffering massive casualties fighting to capture the war-torn eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut. The battle severely weakened the paramilitary organization.

Western intelligence suggested earlier this year that the mercenaries and convict army they recruited to bolster their ranks – sometimes rushing into battle to absorb heavy Ukrainian fire – likely had a casualty rate of up to 50. %. And between December and May, more than 10,000 Wagnerian fighters were killed, according to a recent US assessment.

Praising his opponent while drawing attention to Russia’s failures, Prigozhin said “the Ukrainians are one of the strongest armies today.” This observation contrasts sharply with Russia’s initial expectations before the war that the Ukrainian army would crumble and could capture kyiv within days.

“They have a high level of organization, a high level of training, a high level of intelligence,” he said. “They have different weapons and moreover they work with any system. Soviet, NATO, everything has the same success.”

Ukrainian soldiers ride an APC on the frontline in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, March 26, 2023.

Ukrainian soldiers ride an APC on the frontline in Bakhmut, Donetsk region, Ukraine, Sunday, March 26, 2023.AP Photo/Libkos

Indeed, Ukraine has received widespread military assistance and training from the United States and other NATO partners, which have sent billions of dollars in lethal aid and equipment and military equipment to Ukraine, ranging from small arms and ammunition to advanced munitions and armored vehicles. This mountain of security aid from the West supplemented Ukraine’s existing stockpile of Soviet-era weapons, such as tanks and fighter jets, and bolstered its overall combat capability.

kyiv troops used these systems to inflict devastating casualties on both Wagner and the Russian regular army. Since December, these forces have suffered over 100,000 casualties and made only limited territorial gains in the process. Today, Ukraine is preparing for a long-awaited counter-offensive, which can only make Russia’s situation worse.

“We have worked closely with our allies and partners to help Ukraine build its combat power,” Pentagon Air Force Press Secretary Brig. General Pat Ryder told reporters during a Tuesday briefing. “As they prepare to conduct counter-offensive operations, they have a very strong hand and we are very confident that they have the combat capability they will need.”

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