Analysis

Wagner chief’s furious rants risk making an enemy of Putin in feud with Russia’s defence ministry

Yevgeny Prigozhin's mercenaries have played a key role in the fight for control of the city of Bakhmut – a symbolic battle for both Ukraine and Russia. But, writes Kim Sengupta, Putin’s indulgence of his tirades may be over as the president backs his defence minister’s call for Wagner fighters to sign contracts with the army

Friday 16 June 2023 18:26 BST
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<p>Vladimir Putin, left, has so far tolerated Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rants against the defence ministry </p>

Vladimir Putin, left, has so far tolerated Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rants against the defence ministry

It has been claimed by those familiar with the game of thrones in the Kremlin that Yevgeny Prigozhin’s vitriolic aggression towards the Russian military high command could not have taken place without the sanction of Vladimir Putin.

Even if Putin had just tolerated, rather than encouraged, the Wagner mercenary boss in the feud, then that indulgence seems to be over for the time being. Russia’s president has backed defence minister Sergei Shoigu’s directive that Prigozhin’s mercenaries must sign contracts with the army.

“This has to be done and it has to be done as quickly as possible, in line with common sense, with established practice and the law” said Putin. His office reiterated that there cannot be any exception to the rule.

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