Wagner, head of a powerful Russian mercenary army, signaled his departure from Ukraine, where his troops conquered the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut after months of fighting. Wagner’s owner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, says he is “not sure” whether Wagner will continue to fight in Ukraine.
The threat, real or not, is the latest development in a conflict with the Russian Defense Ministry. Prigozhin recently said that Wagner no longer wanted to cooperate with the defense because Moscow wanted greater oversight of the so-called “voluntary contingent”. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu hopes the move will increase the military’s effectiveness, and according to Russian media, he is also trying to take control of the Wagner troops.
The Wagner boss has been attacking Russia’s military top brass for months. According to Prigozhin, Wagner is integrated into the military system and completely subordinated to Russia’s interests. His highly efficient chain would be compromised by the involvement of Defense Secretary Shoigu. In addition, Wagner coordinates his actions with a Russian general in Ukraine.