Yevheniy Prigozhin, head of the Wagner PMC mercenary group, loosed a rhetorical salvo against Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday, claiming Ukraine’s army is pushing the Kremlin’s forces back at multiple locations and that top military leaders in Moscow are criminally negligent and threaten the security of the Russian state.

Prigozhin made the comments published on internet platforms on June 21 in response to Wednesday announcements by Ukrainian officials that Kyiv’s summer offensive was “going according to plan.” The Russian state media has widely reported that Ukrainian attacks are, purportedly, failing with heavy losses.

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Prigozhin contradicted that official Russian narrative, saying the Ukrainian army has in fact seen successes infighting in the Zaporizhzhia Region, and named three villages recently lost by Russian forces.

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"I cannot comment in any way on how the offensive is going by the Ukrainian armed forces. I can tell what is happening at our line of contact,” Prigozhin said. Ukrainian troops had recently taken control of the villages Pyatykhatky, Rabotyne and Urozhaine, he said.

Ukraine’s government by Thursday morning had not confirmed the liberation of Rabotyne and Urozhaine. Independent Ukrainian news reports of the capture of Pyatykhatky surfaced over the weekend and were confirmed by Ukraine’s Joint Forces South on Monday. 

Prigozhin claimed, without offering evidence, that “above Tokmak” (a city deep behind Russian lines and 30 km to the rear of frontline positions in the Zaporizhzhia sector) a Ukrainian unit of 50-100 men was operating without much interference by the Russian military.

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He likewise asserted that Ukrainian army commandos had crossed the Dnipro River in the vicinity of the town Hola Prystan and that Ukrainian regular army units would follow in due course. Russia’s high command was failing to deliver sufficient weapons and ammunition to frontline troops, Prigozhin said.

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Russian losses of tactically important villages would, if not halted, reverse most territorial gains managed by Russian forces since the Kremlin invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022, Prigozhin warned. 

“Russia will wake up one day and discover that Crimea has also been handed over to the Ukrainians. There is a direct betrayal of Russian interests. It is all happening against the backdrop of losses,” Prigozhin said.

“Troops need to be replenished. One man cannot stand in the line where two or three should stand. All these figures are being concealed. If this goes on, we will be left without the main thing – without Russia.”

Prigozhin singled out Shoigu as particularly responsible for the army’s shortcomings and called Shoigu out for, Prigozhin alleged, professional negligence.

"At what cost are we carrying out ‘special operation’ – at the cost of destruction of the Army…

"For what – so that some ‘Shvonder’ (Shoigu) could get a marshal's star, and his family members would be untouchable? The counterattack by the Ukrainian forces is causing us serious problems and losses. When trouble comes, we may be left without an army and Russia,” Prigozhin said.

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Shvonder, a fictional character invented by Russian early 20th-century novelist Mikhail Bulgakov, is well-known across the former Soviet space as the literary archetype of an uneducated and recently appointed Communist boss owing his job solely to mindless and vociferous support of the party line.

Although obscure to most readers of fiction outside Russia, the works of Bulgakov – a member of the Russian aristocratic class displaced by Communist revolutionaries - are still taught in Russian schools as an important piece of Russia’s cultural heritage. Bulgakov was educated in Kyiv but forced to leave his family home there during the Russian Civil War.

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Comments (9)

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Darren
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We will just invade Scotland.....NOT. They cannot do this anymore

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Charles
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Ukraine is all as determined by the 1991 border. As for Russia, it is time for the Congress of Peoples Deputies to act as if this government of Russia is a fact, not just one in waiting. Ignore Putin, Prigozhin, Medvedev, Lavrov and the rest. They are criminal noise on the road to ruin. The Congress should seize the initiative though, hasten their demise in the minds of the Russian people and the wider world. Explain, act, hold online courts, solicit for taxes, have online elections, raise capital in a de facto official government context, talk to investors, policies to stabilise the country. Present this new government in any forum, even take it to the UN. Make agreements with Ukraine on an official level to end the war, agree reparations, surrender of war criminals. The Congress should also indict Putin and his other robbers. No need to wait for when Putin goes, act now as his regime is irrelevant. To defeat any imperial power, you not only have to fight it but also act as if it does not exist, ignore it and be the alternative. Make your own laws, negotiate, act as the government in all functions of state.

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Chicago Andrij
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Communism only benefits those in power, and is designed to keep control of the masses by using force and harsh punishment. The masses in Russia are submissive sheep under Putin's control, who willingly accept communist subjection, as long as they are permitted to stand in lines for vodka. No wonder they are forced to hire mercenaries and criminals from their jails to replace exterminated Orcs. Unsustainable against the unified and trained forces of Ukraine. The only wild card for Putin is escalating terrorism...

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Kickkicker
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Yevgeny Prigozhin: Trump on the Volga.

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David
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Prizoghin is better than a canary in the coal mine. He can tells it like it is before the inevitable end. Russia has started running out of ignorant cannon fodder, which is why neither Prizo or Shogu can succeed. Cannon fodder has been the only way for Russia to advance against defences because their tanks cannot take the heat.

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Freddie
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Please to meet hope you quess my name.

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Cedar
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Those Russo-Ukrainians still in thrall to the Soviets & their heirs should move to Russia with their new passports. But the land & its resources stay with Ukraine. It would be folly to allow Russia to keep vital sea ports, & exploit the vast mineral wealth of the Donbas, & Crimean offshore fossil fuel fields.

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Sharon
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Power to the Almighty. Hope every day we wake up to Ukraine getting more of their land back.

Alan Clark
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@Sharon, hopefully the partition of the Ukraine solves the areas problems.

Cedar
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@Alan Clark,
The Crimea was parted from Ukraine in 2014. Did that eliminate conflict, or did it just bring Russian infiltrators into the Donbas & open up the necessary supply lines for a brutish invasion?

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john
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Anyone in the west who hasn't read the works of Bulgakov really should. The Master and Margarita probably tops my list of 20th Century Books with a twisted tale of Love and life in early communist Russia with all the contradictions and idiocies exposed by the Devil who is on a visit to Moscow. Then the Heart of a Dog which both lampoons politically driven science and questions just what is a man. Or the White Guard which looks at the losing side in the revolution. That he not only survived writing these under Stalin but was Stalin's favourite author is a miracle.

Brilliant insights into Communist Russia and the Russian mind in general I think.

Dave
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@john, thanks for this info on Bulgakov!

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Gayle Goss
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@john, I would love to read some of his writing's.... where would I get these books

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