Girkin rose to prominence as a commander of separatist forces in Ukraine’s Donbas region and is now a prominent military blogger advocating for Russian nationalist principles. In comments made last week, he accused Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group mercenary outfit, of plotting a coup against the Kremlin after he made several comments critical of Russian forces in Ukraine.
Prigozhin’s forces had, at the time, recently landed significant assistance in the Russian military‘s ongoing attempt to take control of the Bakhmut, a city in Eastern Ukraine. After announcing that his forces would be retreating back to Russia, Prigozhin issued statements severely critical of Russian forces over their handling of the Bakhmut conflict and claimed that the entire war in Ukraine had backfired.
Newsweek reached out via email to Defense Priorities, a think tank with military experts.
In response, Girkin accused Prigozhin of plotting to stage a mutiny against the Russian government with his forces as they made their return home.
“If Prigozhin remains the head of Wagner, the mutiny will come quickly and radically,” Girkin said in a video shared by the WarTranslated watchdog group. “A coup attempt has been declared…What will happen next, I don’t know, especially as Wagner is urgently withdrawn to rear bases…The danger of a looming coup is clear.”
On Friday, Prigozhin released statements antagonizing Russian military forces, this time accusing them of placing land mine on the routes that his Wagner forces used to retreat from Bakhmut.
“Just before exiting [Bakhmut] we detected suspicious activities along our exit routes,” Prigozhin said. “We called law enforcement agencies and found around a dozen locations with dozens of explosive devices: hundreds of anti-tank mines to tons of plastic explosives… There was no need to place those devices to hold enemy forces back, they were all behind the frontlines. We can therefore assume that those explosives were destined for the Wagner PMC.”
In response, Girkin took to his official Telegram account to once again accuse Prigozhin of conspiring against Russia with his comments, dismissing the alleged land mines as unintentional “friendly fire.”
“Another step towards turmoil,” Girkin wrote, as translated by the online tool Yandex. “Even if (most likely, by the way) we are talking only about ‘friendly fire’ and inconsistency of actions (which is very common at the front) – Prigozhin’s statements and this publication are a provocation of an open war between units that previously fought on the same side of the front…Prigozhin must be arrested immediately for this and put on trial by military court.”
The post Wagner Head Provoking ‘Open War’ With Kremlin Forces: Ex-Russian Commander appeared first on Newsweek.