The leader of the private Russian military contractor, the Wagner Group, has called for an end to the war in Ukraine. In a blow to Vladimir Putin’s efforts, Yevgeny Prigozhin said that the “special military operation”, as the Russian President calls it, has now been completed.
In a new article, he said: “For the authorities and for society as a whole, today it is necessary to put some kind of bullet point in the special military operation.
“The ideal option is to announce the end of the SMO, to inform everyone that Russia has achieved the results that it planned, and in a sense we have actually achieved them.
“We have ground a huge number of fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and we can report to ourselves that the tasks of the SMO have been completed.”
The comments come as the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) claimed earlier this month that Russia’s military leadership is seeking a replacement for the private military companies, including the Wagner Group.
Russia is looking to create and fund alternative private military companies (PMCs) to take over the Wagner Group’s significant combat involvement in Ukraine, according to the MoD.
The decision comes amid a high-profile dispute between the Russian Ministry of Defence and Wagner Group.
According to the MOD, Russia’s military leadership is looking for a replacement PMC over which it will have more influence.
Despite this, no other known Russian PMC comes close to Wagner Group in terms of size or combat strength.
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Nonetheless, Russia appears to see PMCs as continuing to be useful in Ukraine due to their ability to work with less constraint than regular military forces.
It is believed that Russia’s leadership believes heavy casualties among PMCs are better tolerated by Russian society than normal military losses.
The MOD update said: “Russia likely sees continued utility for PMCs in Ukraine because they are less constrained by the limited pay levels and inefficiency which hamper the effectiveness of the regular army.
“Russia’s leadership probably believe heavy casualties amongst PMCs will be better tolerated by Russian society compared to regular military losses.”
The Wagner Group is known for its heinous tactics, such as tying up pirates, dousing them in petrol and setting them ablaze.
In one case, an alleged traitor was bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer by Prigozhin, a former hot dog salesman, who is said to have remarked that it was “a dog’s death for a dog”.
A British mercenary has described an incident off Africa’s east coast where Wagner operatives caught some pirates.
They said: “They tied them up, put them back in their boat, poured petrol over them and lit them.
“If you’d said something they wouldn’t have thought there was anything strange — ‘That’s what we do to pirates’.”
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