Cracking Coalition? Wagner Chief Appears to Mock ‘Grandpa’ Putin as a ‘Complete Asshole’

FILE - Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin attends the funeral of Dmitry Menshikov, a figh
AP Photo, File

Wagner Group paramilitary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin appeared to take some verbal shots at Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, seemingly referring to the Russian president as a delusional “grandpa” and a “complete asshole”.

While Putin was in Moscow’s Red Square to deliver a speech to commemorate Victory Day — which celebrates the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II — one of his top military leaders on the ground in Ukraine was apparently intent on trying to undermine Putin’s leadership.

In a video posted online from the frontline in Ukraine, Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a profanity-laden tirade at the military command in Moscow, just days after lambasting the Kremlin for failing to supply him and his band of guns for hire with enough ammunition.

Without divulging the identity of the officials he was talking about, the oligarch turned mercenary chief spoke of a “happy grandfather” figure who “thinks that he is good,” before going on to ask the Russian people what they should do if that grandfather turned out to be a “complete asshole”, according to Sky News.

Although he didn’t refer to Putin specifically, analysts reading between the lines believe that it was indeed the Russian president that the Wagner boss was speaking of.

Analysis from the American think tank the Institute for the Study of War, cited by the news outlet, stated: “Prigozhin is likely referring to Putin, who is often referred to as ‘grandfather’ (or more specifically ‘Bunkernyi ded’ or ‘bunker grandfather’), and Prigozhin has previously attacked other senior Russian officials and officers by name — but has not done so against Putin.”

There has long been speculation that Prigozhin may have Putin’s position in his crosshairs and play the role of Ceasar, intending to cross the Dnipro River with his own army and take the reigns of power at the Kremlin for himself.

Former economic advisor to the Russian government, Anders Aaslund said “It would be surprising if Prigozhin survives this statement”.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that the United Kingdom is preparing to formally classify the Wagner group as a terrorist organisation, a move that would likely make it far more difficult for the band of mercenaries to operate internationally, given that it would bar the group from using UK financial institutions to raise money.

According to a report from The Times of London, a government source claimed that the government had spent the past two months building up a legal case against Wagner and that the announcement of the prescription is likely to be made within the coming weeks.

Wagner, which is currently bearing the brunt of much of the fighting on the front line city of Bakhmut, is also active in conflicts further afield, such as in Africa and the Middle East.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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