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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putin vs. Prigozhin: Russia's Army In Chaos, The Wagner Group On The Brink

The owner of the Wagner mercenary group says he will refuse an order from Russia’s defense ministry to fold his fighters into the regular military but it may be a sign that the Russian government finally wants to get rid of the increasingly powerful mercenary chief.

Photo of Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin addressing his units

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin addresses his units withdrawing from the city captured from the Ukrainian Armed Forces

Anna Akage


Yevgeny Prigozhin, the one time close friend of Putin and founder of the Wagner Group mercenary outfit, took a leading role in the war in Ukraine just months after Russia’s full-scale invasion last year.

But along the way Prigozhin has also made enemies at the highest levels of Russia’s military leadership and it looks increasingly like the mercenary chief has lost the support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has so far protected Wagner from the wrath of Russia’s military establishment.

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The military now wants to disband Prigozhin’s troops: in a June 10 statement, the Ministry of Defense said that before July 1, all fighters serving outside the official military would have to sign contracts placing them under the authority of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Prigozhin's reaction was lightning fast: on Telegram, he said he would refuse the order, and fired back at Shoigu by saying that Wagner’s fighters are more effective on the battlefield because Shoigu does not command them.

From the top

The conflict between the two has been going on for months. Prigozhin regularly criticizes Russia’s military command in public, often personally insulting Shoigu and his aides. He has also accused Shoigu of sabotaging Wagner's supplies and infrastructure, and directing artillery fire at Wagner units near Bakhmut.

But if Prigozhin is truly outside the Ministry of Defense chain of command, no one — not even Shoigu — can give him orders. The recent ultimatum signals that Prigozhin has finally outlived his usefulness to Putin, and can no longer count on the president’s support.

It’s unlikely that the Russian defense ministry would want to withdraw Wagner from military operations entirely, as Prigozhin has threatened to do — in fact, it is in the Kremlin's interests to expand the Wagner team in Ukraine.

And it would be difficult to eliminate Prigozhin, who is an increasingly popular public figure. He has the backing of the many Russians who support the war but believe the military establishment has done a bad job in Ukraine.

Photo of \u200bRussia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attends a meeting of the Council of Defence Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization

Vadim Savitsky/TASS

Prigozhin is also in open conflict with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, which means that some Russian nationalists are on his side as well. Kadyrov has publicly said that Prigozhin is skimming money from his company’s contracts to supply food to the Russian military.

And adding to Putin’s concern may also be Prigozhin’s so-called "troll factory," the Internet Research Agency, a powerful online network accused of interfering in the last U.S. election which Prigozhin uses to promote his own agenda at home and abroad.

Prigozhin commands a loyal army, enjoys the support of many Russians and runs his own media channels. What else does the oligarch need to become Vladimir Putin's sworn enemy? In Moscow, people can go to jail for less.

This discord amongst Russia’s motley forces is playing out against the backdrop of Ukraine’s counter-offensive — and pro-Ukrainian forces are thrilled.

"The Wagner Group is becoming a threat to Russian power, so they are tapping into all the resources of the Defense Ministry, Ramzan Kadyrov and many others. This spat is heating up and can only be welcomed," Russian analyst and blogger Michael Nacke said in response to Russia’s recent internal conflict. In his opinion, the more discord in the Russian military ranks, the better: internal bickering will tie up resources and distract from the war, making them less effective and improving the odds of a successful Ukrainian offensive.

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The Endless War

Blame Hamas For Gaza's Suffering? Of Course — But Also Its Puppet Masters In Iran

Hamas has shown callous disregard for the lives of Palestinians living in Gaza, but this was inevitable given its history and the inspiration of its patrons - Iran's hangman regime.

Photo of children walking past a building destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Oct. 16

Children walk past a building destroyed after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, on Oct. 16

Elahe Boghrat


In January 2023, Kayhan-London, in collaboration with the Center for Peace Communications, a U.S.-based consultancy working with analysts from various countries, published 25 short videos based on conversations held with dozens of people who live in Gaza. Each person voiced a simple desire to live and work in peace, as anyone might, even as we know their destiny is to have become the playthings of terror groups like Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, with their unending agenda of violence, repression and war.

But beyond this local reality, we also know that the strings are being pulled by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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The conversations were moving, but also offered glimmers of hope for an end to this miserable plight. They presented another picture of "the Palestinians" so readily spoken of in the Middle East and beyond, by politicians and on the news.

In the case of Gaza, foreign correspondents may remain and work there as long as they do not question its terrorist rulers. Public awareness of the state of a people that yearns for a quiet life under a government without terrorists will firstly help isolate all those political currents, notably Islamists and leftists, that effectively defend acts of terror against both Palestinians and Israelis, and force sympathetic currents that are unable or unwilling to see the aspirations of ordinary Palestinians.

Once and for all, we must remember to always make a distinction between violent rulers and the people in their grip. It's true of Gaza as it is of Iran, where there is a gaping difference between everyday people and the clerical regime in power.

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