The owner of PMC “Wagner” and known as Putin’s chef – Yevgeny Prigozhin rejected the Kremlin’s claims that Russia is fighting NATO in Ukraineand raised the question of whether there really are Nazis in Ukraine, as Moscow has consistently claimed.
This is stated in the daily analysis of the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine by the Institute for the Study of War.
Prigozhin said that Russia is fighting “exclusively Ukrainians” who are equipped with equipment provided by NATO and some “Russophobic” mercenaries who voluntarily support Ukraine – but not with NATO itself.
Prigozhin also noted that Russian officials most likely knew that NATO would offer Ukraine military aid because “it is ridiculous to think that when [Русия] decided to conduct this special military operation, did not account for NATO’s assistance to Ukraine”. doesn’t know if there are “Nazis” in Ukraine.
Prigozhin also noted that Russia will only “demilitarize” Ukraine when the entire Ukrainian army is destroyed, saying that those efforts are ongoing, but it is unclear whether they will be successful. Prigogine stated that Russia can avoid a grueling protracted warby deciding now which borders he wants to conquer.
Prigozhin also called on the Russian military and media to stop underestimating Ukrainian forces and focusing on internal conflicts. Prigogine effectively rejected the Kremlin’s pre-war and post-war claims that Russia must defend itself against the NATO threat in Ukraine, and undermined the need and likelihood of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s stated maximalist goals for this invasion.
Bloomberg: Prigogine is preparing to transfer his private army to Africa
The rift with the Russian Ministry of Defense is deepening
Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has softened his rhetoric toward the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), possibly out of fear of losing his Bakhmut mercenary force entirely. During a 23-minute interview on March 23, Prigozhin emphasized his concerns about a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in eastern Ukraine.
Prigozhin claimed that Ukraine had 200,000 reserves, which were concentrated for an attack along the entire eastern front line, in the Belgorod region and in Bakhmut. Prigozhin also claimed that the Ukrainians currently had 80,000 troops in Bakhmut, Slavyansk and Kostiantynivka, to counterattack Bahmut — a claim that former Russian officer Igor Girkin noted was dubious.
Prigozhin’s exaggerated statements about the imminent threat to Russian forces were probably an attempt to secure more supplies and reinforcements from the Russian Defense Ministry to save his forces at Bakhmut. Prigozhin made several positive statements about the Russian MoD, even admitting that Russian MoD forces were fighting alongside Chechen units in Bilokhorovka, Luhansk Oblast.
Bloomberg reported that Prigozhin is preparing to reduce Wagner’s operations in Ukraine, after Russia’s military leadership managed to cut off key supplies of personnel and ammunition, according to unspecified people familiar with the matter. Bloomberg’s sources say that Wagner plans to shift its focus back to Africa, but there is currently no indication that Prigogine plans to refocus the Wagner Group on Africa.
Bloomberg reported, citing sources close to the Kremlin and intelligence services, that senior Russian military commanders had worked to undermine Prigozhin’s standing with Russian President Vladimir Putin, claiming that Prigozhin had achieved limited and slow success despite that he sent waves of Russian convicts around Soledar and Bakhmut. ISW estimated on March 12 that Putin eventually turned away from Prigogine after Wagner’s inability to capture Bachmut.
A Ukrainian intelligence official backed ISW’s previous assessments that Russian forces are incapable of conducting large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on several fronts.
Prigozhin warned of a large-scale Ukrainian counteroffensive, including against Belgorod
Kiev will try to separate the mercenaries and the Russian army
The spokesman for the Main Directorate of Military Intelligence (GUR) of Ukraine, Vadim Skibitsky, said on March 23 that in the last year of the war, Russian forces have shown that they are unable to sustain large-scale offensive operations at the strategic level along several axes of attack.
Its possible Russian forces to change their missile strike tacticsto focus on Ukrainian military sites as the total number of Russian missile strikes declines, indicating that Russia’s stockpile of high-precision missiles has been depleted.
Ukrainian General Directorate of Military Intelligence (GUR) spokesman Vadim Skibitsky said Russian forces may be reorienting their strikes to focus on Ukrainian military sites and concentration of forces, while continuing to strike Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, to unlike priority strikes on energy infrastructure, as Russian forces did in the fall of 2022.
Skibitsky stated that according to the GUR assessment at the moment only 15% left of Russia’s stockpile of precision weapons prior to February 24, 2022.
Skibitsky said Russia’s higher-class Kalibr, Kh-101 and Kh-555 cruise missiles make up less than 10 percent of Russia’s total remaining stockpile. Skibitsky said Russian forces could not launch missile strikes more than twice a month because of the increasing need to conserve missiles, in contrast to how Russian forces have been conducting major airstrikes with a higher frequency – about once a week in October 2022
Skibitsky said Russia’s defense industrial base can produce only 20 to 30 Kalibr and X-101 cruise missiles per month, and Russia’s production of Iskander ballistic missiles is even lower.
Prigogine wants to turn “Wagner” into an army with an ideology fighting for justice
“Wagner” fighters have an important role in the Russian offensive in Ukraine
ISW has previously assessed that Russian forces exhaust their missile arsenalwhich could limit the frequency and intensity of Russian missile strikes.
In an address to the State Duma on March 23, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin outlined various measures to support Russian military personnel, the Russian Defense Industrial Base (DIP) and Russia’s independence from the West.
Mishustin said Russia aims for 2026. to produce over 100 aircraftpossibly including military, with unspecified modifications.
Mishustin also claimed that Russia has made significant progress in mobilizing the military’s military to increase production and implementing social support measures for Russian military personnel, especially mobilized personnel, and their families.
ISW: Bakhmut is the culmination of the conflict between Prigogine and the Kremlin
Putin increasingly favors loyalty over competence
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Rosatom may be working on restoring three power lines at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZAEP), which would increased Russian control over ZAPP.
On March 22, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi commented on Russian reports that the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom is working to restore three power lines in the TPP’s distribution system to include them in the power grid system of the Russian-occupied territory. but that the IAEA has not been able to verify this information.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has moderated his rhetoric toward the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), possibly out of fear of losing his Bakhmut mercenary force altogether.
- Prigogine denied the Kremlin’s claims that Russia was fighting NATO in Ukraine and questioned whether there really were Nazis in Ukraine, as the Kremlin has consistently claimed.
- Bloomberg reported that Prigogine was preparing to scale back Wagner’s operations in Ukraine after the Russian military leadership succeeded in cutting off key supplies of personnel and ammunition.
- Ukrainian officials backed ISW’s previous assessments that Russian forces are incapable of conducting large-scale, simultaneous offensive campaigns on multiple fronts.
- It is possible that Russian forces are changing their missile strike tactics to focus on Ukrainian military targets as total Russian missile strikes decline, indicating a depletion of Russia’s stockpile of high-precision missiles.
- In an address to the State Duma, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin outlined various measures to support Russian military personnel, the Russian defense-industrial base (DPB) and Russia’s independence from the West.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported that Rosatom may be working to restore three power lines at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZPP), which would increase Russian control over the ZPP.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks northeast of Kupyansk and along the Svatovo-Kremina line.
- Russian forces continue to attack the town of Bakhmut and the areas near it and around Avdiivka.
- Ukrainian forces continue to carry out raids over the Dnieper River in the Kherson region.
- The Kremlin continues its efforts to force Russian reservists, conscripts and other personnel into contract service.
- Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin announces that Russia continues to make efforts to integrate the newly occupied Ukraine into Russian institutions and infrastructure.
- Recently, Russian forces in Belarus transferred back to Russia ahead of the spring call-up of Russian servicemen on April 1.