‘Riggle’: The Kremlin on Monday denied there was any tension between the Russian military and the Wagner paramilitary group, whose forces appear to be increasingly competing in Ukraine.
“This conflict exists only in the information sphere,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Russia must “know how to recognize its heroes. Recognize the heroes who serve in the armed forces […] And those who belong to the Wagner paramilitary group. “Everyone is fighting for their country. »
The divisions between the Russian military and the Wagner Group, noted by many observers, surfaced last week during the battle for the small town of Soledar in eastern Ukraine.
The leader of the Wagner Group, businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, has repeatedly claimed that only his men are fighting Ukrainian forces in this city.
And when Mr. Prigozhin claimed responsibility for the capture of Solidar on Wednesday, this was quickly contradicted by the Russian Defense Ministry, which itself claimed the city was captured two days later, something Kyiv denied.
In the process, Mr. Prigozhin published a letter in which he attacked, without naming them, “those who continually seek to rob us of our victories.”
Rarely has the Russian Defense Ministry published a press release praising the “bravery” of Wagner’s men at Solidar.
This story has been widely covered and commented on by Russian military bloggers, including those who support the attack on Ukraine, many of whom are critical of the way the operation is being carried out.
Reports of tensions between the military and Wagner, Mr. Peskov said, are “a product of information manipulation, sometimes done by our enemies and sometimes by our friends who act in such a way that we don’t need an enemy.” In disguised criticism of these bloggers.
The Wagner Group, founded in 2014, has recruited thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine in exchange for reduced sentences. Formerly reticent, Mr Prigojine has established himself as a key player in the conflict in Ukraine.
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