Russian Wagner chief releases dead soldiers photo amid ammunition shortage
Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin took a bitter public feud with army top brass to a new level by publishing a grisly image of dozens of his fighters he said had been killed after being deprived of ammunition.
Prigozhin, 61, founder of the Wagner Group, is fighting on Moscow’s behalf in Ukraine.
He has repeatedly blamed Vladimir Putin’s Ministry of Defence for “shell hunger” calling it a treasonous attempt to destroy the private military company.
The Russian ministry said such allegations were “completely untrue” in a statement on Tuesday, complaining - without mentioning Prigozhin by name - about attempts to create divisions that worked “solely to the benefit of the enemy”.
Prigozhin doubled down on his allegations on Wednesday, releasing a picture of dozens of dead soldiers laying on the icy ground in eastern Ukraine where Wagner is battling to try to take the small Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
He told a prominent Russian military blogger in an interview: “This is one of the places where the bodies of those who have died are gathered.”
He claimed there should be five times less fatalities and that the mothers, wives and children of the individuals will get the bodies of their relatives back.
“Who is guilty that they died? The guilty ones are those who should have resolved the question of us getting enough ammo,” he added.
Ex-convict Prigozhin released an official statement sent by Wagner to the defence ministry requesting ammunition.
It contained detailed tallies of shells used, requested and received - though he said he had blanked out sensitive data such as the names of the shells.
In an attempt to secure the ammunition, Prigozhin – a wealthy catering tycoon nicknamed “Putin’s chef” - launched a social media campaign and said Wagner had been reduced to begging military warehouses for supplies.
His image was released Putin addressed some 200,000 at a rally in Moscow on Wednesday afternoon as the first anniversary of the war approaches.