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Russia. The Ministry of Defense wants to control mercenary formations. The Wagner group rebels

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The head of the mercenary group Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said that his men would not sign any contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry. Earlier on Sunday, Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov announced that all volunteer units must sign contracts with the ministry by July 1. The regulation in this regard was issued by Minister Sergei Shoigu.

Nikolai Pankov argued that the decision made by Shoigu would allow “to give the volunteer units the necessary legal status and to expand recruitment opportunities.” The deputy minister explained that volunteers will be able to conclude individual contracts either with the volunteer formations in which they want to serve, or directly with the Ministry of Defence.

SEE ALSO: Attack on Ukraine. Live coverage in tvn24.pl

– Concluding contracts with the state by citizens means, above all, covering them, as well as their family members, with social protection measures established by the state – argued Pankov. He also recalled that in Russia the number of volunteer formations is over 40.

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The Kremlin claims that Putin visited occupied territories in Ukrainian Donbas. Footage from April 18 Reuters Archive

Goals of the ministry

Independent channels on Telegram stated that the defense ministry wants to subordinate volunteer formations, mainly the Warner Group, whose mercenaries fight in Ukraine. The Sota channel reported that it may also be related to the recent scandal in the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic in the Ukrainian Donbasswhere – as it turned out – all Donetsk “mobilized”, captured as a result of “street raids”, are still listed as “volunteers”.

The defense ministry in Moscow calls the mercenaries of the Wagner Group, numbering tens of thousands of mercenaries, “volunteers of assault troops.” The head of this formation, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in turn, has repeatedly criticized the defense minister Sergey Shoigu for “wrong decisions” taken during the armed invasion, and ministry officials for sabotaging supplies of ammunition and armament to his formation, fighting on the most difficult sections of the Ukrainian front.

Wagner Group mercenaries leave Bachmut

Wagner Group mercenaries leave Bachmut Reuters

“When the thunder rumbles”

Prigozhin also spoke about contracts with the Ministry of Defence. He stated that the Wagner Group would not sign them. He said that Shoigu’s decisions concerned employees of his ministry and soldiers. He also admitted that after his refusal, the ministry may stop the supply of ammunition to the Wagner Group.

– We’ll see how they say it when the thunder rumbles. Then they will deliver weapons and ammunition, asking for help, Prigozhin said.

According to Prigozhin, the Wagner Group “coordinates its activities with the commanders of units of the Russian armed forces and is a structure,” which, he said, “cannot be said of the regular Russian army led by Shoigu.”

The headquarters of the Wagner Group in St. Petersburg PAP/EPA

50 thousand mercenaries

In December USA estimated that the Wagner Group has about 50,000 mercenaries fighting in Ukraine, the BBC reported. She recalled that long-standing tensions between a private military company and the army threaten to escalate. Recently, the mercenaries of the Wagner Group captured Colonel Roman Wieniewitin, who after his release accused them of attacking Russian soldiers and stealing weapons. The officer’s recording – as emphasized by independent Telegram channels – could have been propaganda, intended to weaken the position of Prigozhin, who withdrew the Wagner Group from Bakhmut in Donbas.

The BBC also reminded that the mercenaries of the Wagner Group are increasingly becoming a tool of Russian power around the world, fighting, among others, for in Mali, Sudan and Libya.

Radio Swoboda, Current Time, BBC

Main photo source: PAP/EPA

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