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Kremlin denies conflict between Wagner and defence ministry

(Reuters) - The Kremlin on Monday denied any conflict between the Defence Ministry and the Wagner mercenary group fighting for Russia in Ukraine, calling it an invention of the media.

Tension between Wagner and the defence establishment burst into the open last Friday when the ministry claimed the capture of the Ukrainian town of Soledar - which Ukraine disputed - but made no mention of Wagner's role in the fighting.

Wagner's boss Yevgeny Prigozhin complained of attempts to minimise his forces' role and belittle their achievements. The defence ministry later issued an update praising the "courageous and selfless actions" of Wagner fighters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters it was unhelpful for pro-Russian media to take part in media "manipulations" about an alleged rift between the armed forces and Wagner.

He said Russia recognised both as heroes, and "both of them will be forever in our memory".

"As for any conflicts, these are mainly products of informational manipulations, which are, okay, sometimes arranged by our informational opponents, but sometimes our friends behave in such a way that such enemies are not needed," he said.

"Everyone is fighting for their country. So this is how it should be viewed."

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)