A conflict is actively developing in the Russian military-political elite. The founder of the private military company the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, complains about the shortage of weapons and ammunition, and personally blames the Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. The conflict between Wagner mercenaries and the Russian military leadership has been brewing for more than a month, but up until now Prigozhin preferred that subordinates publicly complain about the problems.
"The sh**t is boiling, the blood is twirling, but the questions I asked about the ammunition remain unresolved," Yevgeny Prigozhin complained in an audio recording published by his press service.
The founder of the PMC claims that the Russian army does not have a "shell famine", and the industry has reached the production output necessary for the front. According to him, he knows the ammunition depots, the batch and even crate numbers, but all his acquaintances and connections are not enough for these shells to be provided to mercenaries from his PMCs, who have been trying to capture the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region for six months.
In late December, his mercenaries released an offensive video addressed to the head of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, in which they called him a "motherf**cker" and a f**cking devil", which interferes with the supply of ammunition for mercenaries.
Later, PMC fighters or someone posing as them fired a machine gun at a paper portrait of Gerasimov. Prigozhin had to disown this video. He stated that his subordinates had nothing to do with the footage.
Now, the founder of the PMC claims that in order to solve the problem of shell hunger, unnamed interlocutors offer him to apologize to some high-ranking people.
"Everyone nods somewhere up: 'You know, you have a difficult relationship out there’ they say while pointing their fingers up and rolling their eyes,” Prigozhin says – “You must go and apologize, then your fighters will get ammunition. To whom to apologize? 140 million Russians, tell me, to whom should I apologize so that my guys die half as often as it happens today?"
Prigozhin claims that in the fall of 2022, while the Russian group in Ukraine was commanded by General Surovikin, his detachments had no problems with shells, "although the industry was still creaking." But now the mercenaries are dying because "military functionaries don't want to kick ass off."
"I'm not sticking it in your face that you have breakfast on golden dishes and send your daughter to a vacation in Dubai when a Russian soldier dies at the front," said the founder of the PMC, unequivocally hinting at the Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu . “This is not an extremist statement. This is not an attempt to offend anyone. Provide ammunition in the right quantity, which is in the warehouses."
Not receiving any reaction to his appeals and attacks, Prigozhin is trying to enlist as many allies as possible in the conflict with Shoygu and the General Staff.
"Already now we can confidently say that Wagner has firmly proven their effectiveness in military terms and drew a line under the debate about the need for PMCs. Without any doubt, such professional formations are essential and necessary," the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, who, together with Prigozhin, publicly attacked the Russian General Staff for the failures in the Kharkiv region, wrote on his Telegram channel.
Shoygu continues to ignore Prigozhin's public outcry.
Prigozhin, along with his PMC, increasingly resembles popular in the media, but not mainstream field commanders of the 2014-2015, who were useful for the Kremlin initially, but then were either killed or were carefully squeezed out of Ukraine into Russia or the annexed Crimea.