Wagner Group's Yevgeny Prigozhin Goes Medieval on Russia's Military Command Over Lack of Ammunition

Wagner Chieftain Yevgeny Prigozhin reads the riot act to the Russian military establishment. CREDIT: Twitter

Yevgeny Prigozhin, chieftain of the private military contractor Wagner Group, has taken off the gloves in his fight with the military command structure. In a series of videos, he directly blamed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov for the thousands, according to Prigozhin, of casualties suffered by Wagner Group in its failed attempt to take the fortified city of Bakhmut. In particular, he accuses them of deliberately depriving Wagner Group of ammunition while depots remained full.


The first video released is Prigozhin surveying a mound of corpses that he says are Wagner Group fighters killed on that day. “The blood,” he says, “is still fresh.” He calls his bosses some naughty words in the process.

These are guys from PMC Wagner who died today. The blood is still fresh.

Film all of them!

Now listen to me! F***ing b***h! These are someone’s fathers and someone’s sons! And these [expletive of some sort] who are not giving us ammuntion, b***h, will be eating their guts in hell! [gay slur — lol]. We have a 70% ammo deficit! Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where is the f***ing ammo?

Look at them, b***h!

You scumbags are sitting in expensive clubs. Your children enjoy life, filming YouTube videos. You think you are the masters of this life and that you have the right to control their lives. You think that if you have stockpiles of ammo you have a right to this. The calculations are simple. If there is an ammunition norm, we get five times less. They came here as volunteers, and are dying for you to get a free ride in your cabinets with redwood. Consider this!

Blaming his superiors while using dead Wagner Group fighters as props isn’t exactly new. He did something similar back in February.

The vitriol of the attack on Shoigu and Grasimov is new.

In this video, Prigozhin announces that his troops will pack their s*** and un-ass the area of operations on May 10, the day after “Victory Day,” where the Russians annually take credit for single-handedly winning World War II.

I am speaking on behalf of myself, on behalf of the Wagner PMC commanders, and behalf of the Wagner PMC fighters.

I am addressing the Chief of the General Staff (Colonel General Valery Gerasimov), Defense Minister (Sergei Shoigu), Supreme Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Putin, and the Russian people.

On March 16, 2022, when the special military operation did not go according to plan, we were asked to help. On March 19, 2022, our units arrived from Africa, fully equipped, and joined the battle instantly. We were put on what’s known as “artificial ammunition deficit,” ammunition hunger. The ammunition is freely available in the depots. We were receiving only 30 percent of what we needed. For that reason, our losses were significantly higher than they should have been, but we kept going forward. One month ago, they stopped giving us ammunition, we are receiving only ten percent. We were going to capture Bakhmut by May 9, 2023. However, having seen this, the pseudo-military bureaucrats practically stopped the supply of any ammunition to prevent us from doing that. They are sitting there, jiggling their fat bellies and thinking that they will go down in history as winners. They have already gone down in history as cowards.

I am officially informing the Defense Minister, Chief of the General Staff, and the Supreme Commander-in-Chief that my guys will not be taking useless, unjustified losses in Bakhmut without ammunition. So, on May 10, 2023, we are pulling out of Bakhmut. We have only two or so kilometers left to capture out of 45. If, due to your petty jealousy, you do not want to give the Russians the victory of capturing Bakhmut, it is your problem.

So, I am asking the Chief of the General Staff to sign a battle order. We have not received a single official order signed to us during the whole war because the leadership is afraid to take responsibility, both when advancing and when pulling back.

A third part of this story is Prigozhin defending logistics chief Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, who was relieved of his job last week; see Putin’s War, Week 62. Kremlin Droned, Russia Dissed by Friends and Allies, and Ukraine’s Offensive Takes Shape.


Now an important point: why was Colonel General Mizintzev dismissed? Colonel General Mizintsev, as they say, is a rare man. A general of the General Staff who is a simple man without any super-requirements. So, when he took command of the rear, he had a very pragmatic approach to ammunition and armament. First, the necessary weapons began to be repaired. He put it on stream and did it well and with high quality. During his trips, he stopped by the Far Eastern Arsenal. Those arsenals that were “blown up” by Serdyukov (former Minister of Defense) remained untouched. And they contained large quantities of unserviceable, fourth-category ammunition. This category was carefully collected and packed by Mizintsev: ammunition to ammunition, shell to shell, and he transferred this ammunition both to us and to other units. And everyone is well aware of this and is still, I think, grateful to him for not losing men.

When the “shell famine” started, we were given about 30% of our requisitions. Our requisitions, they are five to six times less than what is required according to the calculations taught in the General Staff. When we are issued the ammunition that we have ordered, it is not the ammunition that we are supposed to receive because it is much higher, but the ammunition that we have ordered based on the number of guns, based on the enemy’s characteristics, the number of personnel, and everything else. If we are given 100% of ammunition, the sanitary loss per month is up to 10%. If we are issued the amount we have been given, which averages out over the past six months to no more than 32%, then sanitary losses averaged over those six months are 27% per month. That is, if in conditions of a heavy, merciless, bloody war during this time, we could have lost 60% of the personnel killed and wounded, then based on the calculations that we have, it is 170% killed and wounded. Certainly, our losses fall short of 170%.

The losses are on the conscience of those who did not give us ammunition. They are Minister of Defense Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Gerasimov. All requests were written, all demands were made. We were not given them. So for tens of thousands of dead and wounded they will be held accountable to their mothers and children, and I will make sure of that.

Twenty-five percent per month means that everyone has to die in four months. This is solely because officials are not fulfilling their responsibilities, not using what they have been taught. Gerasimove was trained, but Shoigu, as far as I know, was not. And so their unprofessionalism is ruining tens of thousands of Russian guys. And that is inexcusable.


Curiously, Prigozhin announced that Minzintsev had been made deputy commander of Wagner Group.

Wagner Group has been a problematic adjunct to the Russian Army from the day it arrived. Wagner’s reckless attacks in Bakhmut rapidly burned through “trained” manpower (I used that term advisedly, see Three Hundred Dead and Wounded Russians Are a Reminder of US Airpower in Syria and The Mystery of the Dead Russian Mercenaries in Syria Deepens), and Prigozhin was soon trolling through the Russian prison system looking for recruits, see Vladimir Putin to Address Russia; Annexation of Ukraine Provinces and Mobilization Seem to Be on the Table.

They brought with them a well-deserved reputation for brutality.

Prigozhin circulated a video of a Wagner deserter, who the Ukrainians cannily exchanged back to the Russians for a Ukrainian soldier, being executed by sledgehammer; read Putin’s War, Week 38. The Lines Clarify and Everyone Is Getting Ready for the Next Phase. Since then, Prigozhin has presented sledgehammers to people and units as commendations; read Putin’s War, Week 45: Putin Declares a Cease Fire, Zelensky Gets Putin’s Terms for Peace, and if You’re Fighting a War, Leave Your Cell Phone Home. Perhaps in frustration over the Bakhmut fighting, Prigozhin recently ordered Wagner Group to stop taking prisoners; read Putin’s War, Week 61. Xi Calls, Prigozhin Sounds El Degüello, and Surprise Attacks at Sevastopol, Kherson, and (Maybe) St. Petersburg.


In fairness, in the view of the US national security establishment, Wagner Group is the only Russian force that gains territory; read Putin’s War, Week 46. Putin Shakes up the Army Command, Prigozhin Shows How It’s Done, and Western Tanks for Ukraine Are on the Way.

Wagner Group has also earned the distinction of being declared a criminal organization by the US Government; read Russia’s Wagner Group Mercenaries Designated as a Criminal Organization by the US Government.

As with so many other things, it is difficult to determine exactly what is going on here. Let’s start with the knowns, as the late Donald Rumsfeld would say. Prigozhin is a longtime crony of Vladimir Putin. He was the target of one of Robert Mueller’s court cases and handed Mueller’s ass to him; read Mueller’s Team Continues Their Humiliation at the Hands of a Russian Oligarch. Professional military corporations are illegal in Russia, so it is safe to say his open operation of a PMC is a sign of official favor. When mopes on the street are drawing hefty prison terms for “insulting” the Armed Forces, Prigozhin being able to go after Shoigu and Gerasimov by name and to openly accuse the military of corruption means, in my view, that he’s acting as a stalking horse for Putin. What is his mission? My guess is that it is twofold. First, his accusations of corruption force them to try to suppress the endemic corruption in the Russian military. Second, if the war in Ukraine goes pear-shaped, which I think it will over this summer, then Shoigu and Gerasimov, not Putin, will take the blame. And we can’t rule out enlightened self-interest. Prigozhin is obviously angling to replace Shoigu as Defense Minister, and Wagner Group has invested in high-rise offices in St. Petersburg as a sign to the upper crust of society that Prigozhin has arrived; see Putin’s War, Week 38. The Lines Clarify and Everyone Is Getting Ready for the Next Phase.

Is the “shell hunger” that Prigozhin complains about real? Or is it any more real for Wagner Group than it is for the rest of the Russian Army? It’s hard to tell. There has been a slackening of artillery fire in support of attacks in and around Bakhmut, but some of that is due to the attrition of gun tubes and rocket launchers. Some is undoubtedly due to the Russians anticipating Ukraine’s spring offensive. If ammunition allocations have been reduced to 30% of required levels, that is an indication of a huge problem that is only going to get worse.


Wagner is notorious for not cooperating with the Russian Army in operations, and as it does not, as best I can tell, have its own artillery, that lack of cooperation may be playing out in a lack of fire support.

The relationship between Prigozhin and the fired general Mizintsev, given that he was in charge of logistics during the “shell hunger,” is also curious. Was Prigozhin getting all that he wanted from Mizintsev, and the decreased ammunition supply Prigozhin bitches actually represent what he should have been getting? The comment Prigozhin makes about Mizintsev finding condemned ammunition at depots and sending it to the front makes me wonder if there is some sort of grift involved. During the Vietnam War, it was not uncommon for South Vietnamese ground commanders to have to pay bribes to artillery and air unit commanders for fires support. I’ve heard similar stories about our valiant Iraqi and Afghan allies. Is that what’s happening here?

We will learn a lot more on May 10. If Wagner Group does, as the Brits say, bugger off, we’ll know something serious is afoot. We won’t necessarily know what but we’ll know “something.” If, as I suspect, that Wagner Group will crawl out of their holes and do yet another frontal attack against dug-in automatic weapons with artillery and mortar rounds bouncing off their heads, we’ll know this was another of the increasingly forceful political hits against Shoigu and Gerasimov.



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