Kremlin fears ‘unpredictable’ Wagner Group leader
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The Kremlin’s support for the mercenary Wagner Group is waning due to fears of its leader’s unpredictability. Sergei Markov, a well-known pro-Vladimir Putin commentator, revealed that he had received a directive from the leadership because Prigozhin had become too unpredictable. The order came after Prigrozhin claimed that Wagner forces had taken control of a village close to Bakhmut, the center of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
He shared a video that he claimed showed Wagner fighters at the entrance of Krasna Hora, a village that had a pre-war population of 600.
In an audio message, he also stated that only Wagner fighters were in control within a 50km radius of Bakhmut.
However, Markov said that the Kremlin now fears Prigozhin and does not want to give attention to his accomplishments.
Markov told the New York Times: “They apparently don’t want to bring him into the political sphere because he’s so unpredictable.”
The instruction to restrict coverage of Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenary group, Wagner, was also mentioned by the Grey Zone, a Telegram channel that has 436,000 subscribers and is linked to Wagner.
They posted a document, said to be from the Kremlin’s February media guidelines for Russian bloggers regarding their reporting on the invasion of Ukraine, which was a Microsoft Word document without a confirmed source.
The document advised journalists to highlight the leaders of the regular Russian army but to refrain from mentioning Prigozhin and Wagner.
A member of the Grey Zone group of Russian military bloggers remarked: “This explains a lot.”
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Last week the Wagner Group boss said that the war in Ukraine could drag on for years.
Prigozhin said in a video interview released late Friday that it could take 18 months to two years for Russia to fully secure control of Donbas.
He added that the war could go on for three years if Moscow decides to capture broader territories east of the Dnieper River.
The statement from Prigozhin, a millionaire who has close links to Russian President Vladimir Putin and was dubbed “Putin’s chef” for his lucrative Kremlin catering contracts, marked a recognition of the difficulties that the Kremlin has faced in the campaign, which it initially expected to wrap up within weeks when Russian troops invaded Ukraine on February 24.
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Russia suffered a series of humiliating setbacks in the fall when the Ukrainian military launched successful counteroffensives to reclaim broad swaths of territory in the east and the south.
On Sunday, Prigozhin said that Wagner fighters have taken over the Krasna Hora settlement north of Bakhmut, a strategic city at the epicenter of the fighting in recent months.
Russian forces over the weekend continued to shell Ukrainian cities amid a grinding push to seize more land in the east of the country, with Ukrainian officials saying that Moscow is having trouble launching its much-anticipated large-scale offensive there.
One person was killed and one more was wounded on Sunday morning by the shelling of Nikopol, a city in the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Governor Serhii Lysak reported.
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