Wagner accuses the Potok fighters of fleeing the entrance at Bachmoet on the finish of April, the place they had been tasked with defending the western flank of the Wagner troops. However in line with Wagner, they withdrew after a counter-attack by the Ukrainian military, leaving their weapons behind.
The withdrawal sparked a disagreement on Russian social media, with Wagner describing the Potok fighters as a bunch of “cousins.” “With pals like that you do not want enemies,” concluded a pro-Wagner army blogger. In flip, Potok fighters complained that they needed to fill gaps within the entrance after Wagner left positions there. Once they needed to withdraw resulting from lack of ammunition, Wagner threatened to “take care of them”. Wagner is understood for executing “deserters.”
The conflict between the volunteer armies is the results of an influence battle between Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Protection. Prigozhin accuses Minister Sergei Shoigu of the truth that the military command intentionally provides his troops inadequate ammunition.
The volunteer armies which have emerged because the begin of the conflict towards Ukraine are additionally a part of a preconceived plan by the ministry to weaken Wagner, in line with Prigozhin. On this approach, he says, the ministry needs to “forestall Wagner from turning into so highly effective that it’ll play a job in home politics”.
Ties to the Ministry
Certainly, a lot of the Russian volunteer battalions working in Ukraine seem to have ties to the Ministry of Protection. Potok, which partly consists of personnel from Gazprom’s safety service, is in actual fact managed by the ministry, in line with Russian unbiased media. Gazprom has three different battalions: Aleksandr Nevski, Fakel (Torch) and Plamja (Flame).
‘Redoet’ (Reinforcement), the biggest volunteer military after Wagner, is populated by ex-commandos from the armed forces and former members of the safety providers. Like different volunteer battalions, they’re allowed to make use of army coaching areas and obtain their weapons and ammunition from the military.
One other volunteer battalion, Patriot, is even rumored to be a personal military of Protection Minister Shoigu himself. The Ministry additionally controls a battalion with the considerably sinister identify ‘Konvoj’ (the identify evokes associations with the items that escorted prisoners to the Gulag’s penal camps). ‘Konvoy’ is a creation of Sergei Aksyonov, Putin’s appointed ‘prime minister’ of occupied Crimea.
Based on the British Ministry of Protection, the Russian management hopes that the non-public armies affiliated with the ministry can finally substitute Wagner. But when that’s certainly the intention, it’s not precisely going easily in the intervening time. Skilled fighters generally defect from Wagner, for instance as a result of they’re paid extra at organizations corresponding to Redoet. The non-public armies have additionally forged their nets within the penal camps, now that Wagner is now not allowed to recruit prisoners there. However many of the greater than a dozen non-public armies combating in Ukraine quantity just a few hundred fighters.
Like Wagner, the volunteer battalions loosely related to the ministry even have a nasty fame. The benefit for the ministry is that it might say that it’s not liable for conflict crimes they commit. The identical applies to the losses suffered by the battalions. They’re additionally not the accountability of the army management.
Financing by oligarchs
One other profit to the Kremlin is that some volunteer armies are funded by Russian oligarchs. For instance, Redoet reportedly receives monetary assist from Gennady Timchenko, an previous buddy of President Putin, and aluminum baron Oleg Deripaska.
It is a good way to show your loyalty to Putin, who at the start of the conflict ranted towards businessmen who make their cash in Russia, however “oysters and foie gras meals on the Riviera”. On the identical time, the lenders construct profitable ties with highly effective figures inside the army and the Ministry of Protection.
“It’s stated that if it turns into an influence battle, it’s helpful to have your personal military. That is why individuals who have cash assume it is ‘cool’ to start out their very own military,” Prigozhin sneered. However for now, he isn’t too nervous about his “mini-competitors.” Wagner stays by far the biggest mercenary military in the intervening time, despite the fact that nearly half of the 40,000 fighters have died in current months, in line with US estimates.