The head of the Russian mercenary group Wagner has accused Russian officials of trying to kill his men by planting mines in areas they operate.

In a post on Telegram, Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his forces had found hundreds of explosive devices in “about ten” areas.

“It was not necessary to plant these charges in order to deter the enemy, as (the area they were found) is in the rear area,” he said.

“Therefore, we can assume that these charges were intended to meet the advancing units of Wagner.”

Wagner forces have in recent days been pulling back from their positions in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, handing them over to regular Russian units.

Prigozhin said that during this operation there had been no “provocations” from Ukrainian forces but “surprises awaited us on the other side.”

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When asked who was responsible for placing the devices, he said: “We conducted investigative actions jointly with law enforcement agencies to document everything.

“Currently, investigations are underway. Those who put these explosive devices in are representatives of the Ministry of Defence.”

He added: "We assume this was an attempt at a public flogging." 

Prigozhin said none of the devices had exploded and none of his men had been killed or injured.

The Wagner chief is closely linked to President Vladimir Putin and the two started their careers in business and politics in their native Saint Petersburg following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

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