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Wagner Group leader says a Ukrainian counter-offensive would likely succeed as Russia is in ‘crisis,’ report says

Yevgeny PrigozhinYevgeny Prigozhin.

Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

  • The Wagner Group leader criticized Russia’s “deep state” in an essay published Friday.
  • Yevgeny Prigozhin said a Ukraine counter-offensive is likely to succeed as Russia is in “crisis.”
  • But he urged Russians to keep fighting and ignore the elites who want to cut losses, per Sky News.

The Wagner Group’s leader warned that Ukraine’s planned counter-offensive is likely to succeed after criticizing the “deep state” of Russia in a lengthy essay published on Friday.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian paramilitary unit, said that the country was in a state of “crisis,” according to Sky News. Prigozhin also criticized Russian state elites, who, he said, “operate independently of the political leadership of the state and have close ties and their own agenda.” 

Prigozhin wrote that Ukraine would launch a counteroffensive and would likely break through Russian defenses as the country’s military operations have been weakened by the “decadent elite,” according to the Telegraph

The Institute for the Study of War, a US-based think tank, warned that some coverage of Prigozhin’s essay has been “miscontextualized,” and that much of the nuance in his “idiosyncratic rhetorical and writing style” is lost when translating Russian to English. 

Prigozhin, who has been a highly visible figure throughout the course of the Ukraine war, “called on Russia to commit to a decisive fight that will either defeat Ukraine or result in a temporary Russian defeat that will catalyze Russia’s nationalist rebirth and set conditions for future victory,” the ISW said.

Prigozhin has urged Russians to keep fighting, warning them to ignore elites who want Russia to cut losses in the war, per Sky News.

“If Russia gets to the bottom, then it will push off from there,” Prigozhin wrote, adding that it would then “float back up like a huge sea monster, demolishing everything in its path, including the plans of the United States,” per the Daily Beast.

A mural depicting Russia's Wagner Group that reads: "Wagner Group - Russian knights."A mural depicting mercenaries of Russia’s Wagner Group.

AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic

Sergey Radchenko, a historian and professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, called the letter “delirious and self-contradictory” but “nevertheless very interesting” on Twitter

Prigozhin “calls on Putin to do away with half-measures and ends with a hope for a massive Ukrainian counteroffensive to bring about the final showdown,” Radchenko said. 

The Wagner Group, which has lost more than 30,000 soldiers in Ukraine, works more closely with the Russian military than Prigozhin portrays, Insider previously reported. The group has been forced to start drawing from its elite fighters due to the “massive losses” it’s suffered.

As the fighting rages on, Ukraine’s leaders have hinted at their plans for a counter-offensive — although it is not clear exactly when the attack will take place. 

Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister, said on Friday that the counter-offensive attack would start in the “near future,” per the Telegraph.

Read the original article on Business Insider