The founder of the private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, commented on his failed rebellion for the first time. For two days after fleeing to Belarus, he remained silent about the reasons why he called off his attack on Moscow.
The Telegram channel of Putin's "chef" released his voice message, in which Prigozhin said that about 30 Wagner fighters were killed during the "shelling" of the mercenaries' rear camp by the Defense Ministry.
According to him, the authorities were allegedly planning to disband his PMC, so he decided to march through Russian cities. "We were marching to demonstrate protest, not to overthrow the government in the country," he said.
Prigozhin claims that only a few Wagner militants were injured during the "march".
He also assured that it was Alexander Lukashenko, the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, who proposed to resolve the situation peacefully.
Read Prigozhin's full commentary:
"The Wagner PMC is the most experienced and combat-ready unit in Russia, and perhaps in the world. Motivated and charged fighters who have performed tasks only in favor of Russia in Africa, Arab countries and all over the world. Recently, this unit has achieved good results in Ukraine, having accomplished serious tasks.
As a result of intrigue and ill-considered decisions, this unit was to cease to exist on July 1, 2023. A council of commanders met and brought all the information to the soldiers. No one agreed to sign a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry, because everyone knows that this will lead to a complete loss of combat capability. Experienced fighters and commanders will be smeared and will be used as meat, where they will not be able to use their potential and experience.
Those fighters who decided to join the Defense Ministry have done so. But this is a minimal number, estimated at 1-2%. All the arguments to keep the PMC alive were used, but none were realized in an attempt to join any other structure where we could be useful.
The decision to move to the MoD was made at the most inopportune moments. Nevertheless, we were putting our equipment on trawls, and we were going to march to Rostov on June 30 in a convoy and publicly hand over the equipment near the air defense headquarters if this decision was not made.
Despite the fact that we did not show any aggression, we were attacked, and immediately after that, helicopters were sent in. About 30 soldiers were killed, some were wounded. This was the trigger for the immediate decision of the Council of Commanders to move out immediately. I stated that we are not going to use aggression, but if we are attacked, we will respond.
During the entire "march", which lasted 24 hours, one of the columns went to Rostov, the other went in the direction of Moscow. We covered 780 kilometers in one day, and not a single soldier was killed on the ground. We regret that we were forced to strike at air assets, but these assets were dropping bombs and launching missile strikes. During this time, all military facilities along the road were blocked and neutralized.
No one on the ground was killed. There were several wounded among the PMC fighters, and two killed, that are those who joined us, servicemen of the Ministry of Defense. None of the PMC fighters were forced to go, and everyone knew its ultimate goal. The purpose of the campaign was to prevent the destruction of the Wagner PMC and to bring to justice all those who, through their unprofessional actions, made a huge number of mistakes during the special military operation or "SMO".
We stopped at the moment when the first assault unit that came within 200 kilometers of Moscow deployed artillery, reconnoitered the area, and at that moment it became obvious that a lot of blood would be shed. So we thought that the demonstration of what we were going to do was sufficient. Our decision to turn around was based on two factors: we did not want to shed Russian blood. Secondly, we were going to demonstrate our protest, not to overthrow the government in the country.
At that time, Lukashenko reached out and offered to find a solution for the PMC to continue working under legal jurisdiction. The columns turned back and went to the field camps.
Our "march" revealed serious security problems throughout the country. We blocked all military units and airfields. In 24 hours, we covered the distance that corresponds to the distance from the place where Russian troops started on February 24, 2022 to Kyiv and from the same point to Uzhhorod. Therefore, if the actions on February 24, 2022 at the start of "SMO" had been carried out by a unit with the level of training and moral composure as the Wagner PMC, then perhaps the "special operation" would have lasted a day.
We have shown the level of organization that the Russian army must meet. When we passed by Russian towns on June 23-24, civilians greeted us with Russian flags and Wagner emblems and flags. They were happy when we passed by. Some were disappointed that we had stopped because in the 'march of justice', in addition to our struggle for existence, they saw support for the fight against bureaucracy and other problems that exist in our country today.
On June 23, the founder of the private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused the Russian regular army of launching a missile attack on the rear camps of his mercenaries. The Russian Ministry of Defense considers this statement a provocation. Prigozhin promised to "punish" those who attacked the rear camps of the private military company. On June 24, Prigozhin's militants seized administrative buildings in Rostov and moved to Voronezh. Prigozhin promised that Wagner's men would reach Moscow and take over.
After unsuccessful attempts to reach Moscow, Prigozhin said he was stopping his militants and taking them to field camps, while the leader of the Wagner PMC himself was moving to Belarus, as he had agreed with Alexander Lukashenko.
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