Chechen Leader and Wagner Group Boss May Have Blackmailed Russian Defense Chiefs, Says Think Tank
In a new analysis, the Institute for the Study of War has suggested that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin may have worked together to effectively blackmail Russian defense chiefs into supplying more ammunition to Wagner forces in Ukraine.
The report claims that Kadyrov and Prigozhin threatened to pull Chechen forces from other parts of the theater to relieve Wagner forces in Bakhmut, effectively forcing the hand of Russia's theater commander in Ukraine, Army General Valery Gerasimov, to prioritize the effort to supply Wagner forces with more ammunition.
The report also suggests that the Russian defense ministry chiefs "lack the ability to command Prigozhin and Kadyrov as subordinates but must instead negotiate with them as peers," adding to concerns about the influence of private military forces in Russia's military operations.
Prigozhin's private military forces have been at the forefront of Russia's fighting in the battle for Ukraine's eastern city of Bakhmut, and on Friday he criticized Russia's top military brass, threatening to withdraw his forces due to insufficient ammunition supplies. However, he announced on Sunday that he had received a guarantee of new supplies and indicated that his forces would stay in Bakhmut after all.
The revelations are likely to add to concerns about the role of private military forces in Russia's military operations, and the influence of powerful individuals like Kadyrov and Prigozhin.