The conflict between Russian Ministry of Defence and Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has likely reached a climax as thousands of fighters have died fighting in Ukraine’s Bakhmut city.
According to the Institute for Study of War (ISW) analysis, the Ministry is “currently prioritizing eliminating Wagner on the battlefields in Bakhmut” which it concludes is slowing its advance in the area, the Guardian reported.
It said the conflict began when Prigozhin ran a “relentless defamation” campaign against senior figures in the Russian military, including Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
Now that the group has failed to show progress it is believed Russian MoD officials are “seizing the opportunity to deliberately expend both elite and convict Wagner forces in Bakhmut in an effort to weaken Prigozhin and derail his ambitions for greater influence in the Kremlin”.
The ISW believes Russian President Vladimir Putin likely became “alarmed” by Prigozhin’s political ambitions in October last year.
Putin likely stopped the Russian Ministry of Defence from directly attacking Prigozhin but instead created conditions in which the Russian military leadership could reassume more authority.
Such conditions likely threatened Prigozhin, who began to intensify his criticism of the Ministry and further deepened the conflict between Wagner forces and military leadership, the Guardian reported.