“Although he is currently the president of a country hostile to Russia, Zelenskyy is a strong, confident, pragmatic and nice guy.” Praise for the President of Ukraine comes straight from Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, is considered “Putin’s private army”, responsible for heinous war crimes and active not only in Ukraine but also in Libya, Syria, Mali and other countries. As the Chron reports, Prigozhin added: “Don’t underestimate him. Always look for faults in yourself and see what is good and important, what can be learned from the experience of the enemy ».
What is behind the Zelensky homage?
It is the first time that a person so close to Putin has spoken positively about Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, in violation of the Kremlin’s official position. A homage with contradictory meaning: Is it a way to challenge Putin?
As the Washington Post reports, Prigozhin is said to have confronted Putin in recent weeks for revealing his criticism of the course of the war in Ukraine. Along with Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, he has increasingly openly criticized military leaders for waging war with Putin.
Russian political scientist Tatiana Stanovaya commented on Prigozhin’s claims, arguing that it was interesting that she was expressing a point of view very far removed from Putin’s. an opinion that other members of the ruling elite may not dare voice.
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Putin’s cook and the Wagner group
The Russian businessman, also known as “Putin’s Cook” because he runs a company providing catering services for the Kremlin, he admitted at the end of September that he was the founder of the Wagner Group and that he founded it in 2014.
The Wagner group is playing an active role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and Prigozhin has personally visited Russian prisons in recent weeks to recruit new fighters. The fact that a businessman was sent to maximum security prisons without an official mandate and was able to release some prisoners and send them to Ukraine underscores his influence in the Russian establishment., declares the Telegraph. Just weeks before the Kremlin announced a mobilization to support its losses in Ukraine, Prigozhin defended his prison recruitment campaign, arguing that it was “better” to send prisoners to the front than “his children.”
His army is playing an increasingly important role on the battlefield in Ukraine. According to US and Western intelligence officials, Prigozhin is using the Russian army’s moment of confusion and weakness in Ukraine to bolster its power and influence, including by harshly criticizing Putin and the Russian leadership. Some influential Russian military bloggers would like him to replace Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
As reported by CNN Politics, Michael Kofman, an analyst specializing in the Russian military at the Center for Naval Analysis, explained that Prigozhin “sees an opportunity to rise in rank” and is “trying to embarrass Shoigu in hopes of moving forward.”
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