Yevgeny Prigozhin with Vladimir Putin in 2010.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said ammunition promised to his troops - some of whom were recruited directly from prison to join the war - has not arrived.
He said that was affecting the Wagner Group’s ability to help Russia hold on to the key city of Bakhmut.
Prigozhin said that orders were signed on February 22 for the group, which is fighting alongside Russian forces, to be sent fresh ammunition the following day. However, most of it never arrived.
In a video uploaded at the weekend, Prigozhin said the lack of ammunition could be “ordinary bureaucracy or a betrayal”.
According to the BBC, he said: “If we step back, we will go down in history as the people who took the main step to lose the war.
“And this is precisely the problem with the [ammunition shortage]. This is not my opinion, but that of ordinary fighters.
“What if they [the Russian authorities] want to set us up, saying that we are scoundrels - and that’s why they are not giving us ammunition, not giving us weapons, and not letting us replenish our personnel, including [recruiting] prisoners?”
He went on to insist that without his group, Russia’s war in Ukraine would be a failure.
“If Wagner PMC [private military company] were to now retreat from Bakhmut, then the entire front - which PMC Wagner today is cementing - would crumble,” he said.
Who are the Wagner Group?
The Wagner private military company (also known as Wagner PMC) really took off in 2014.
Headed up and financed by Prigozhin, the covert group of mercenaries began showing up to support the Russian troops in unmarked green uniforms.
At the time, Wagner was so unknown they were nicknamed “little green men”.
Since then, it has grown exponentially, taking on thousands of soldiers who can come straight from elite backgrounds or prison.
Private military contractors are forbidden in Russia, so the whole group works outside of the country’s law.
That means this is a covert group of significant military force and political influence which – according to Vox – makes money by serving Moscow, and exploiting natural commodities in target countries.
Even Prigozhin denied any link to the group until September 2022 when he admitted he founded it.
Prigozhin is also an associate of Vladimir Putin, and was previously nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because of his expanse of catering companies which catered to the Kremlin.