Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, urged the Russian leader to end his ongoing “special military operation” in Ukraine and focus instead on strengthening his country’s grip on the territories it occupied in the Eastern European country.
“For the [Russian] authorities and for society as a whole, today it is necessary to put a decisive end to the special military operation. The ideal option is to announce the end of the special military operation, to inform everyone that Russia has achieved the results that it planned, and in a sense we have actually achieved them,” Prigozhin wrote in a blog article posted on Telegram on Friday that was shared and translated by Ukrainian news outlet Pravda.
The Wagner Group is a Kremlin-backed private military company led by Prigozhin, who is contributing to Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.
Putin launched his war on Ukraine last February, widely referred to as a “special military operation,” with confidence that his country would achieve a quick victory against his Eastern European neighbor. However, Ukraine responded with stronger-than-expected defense effort, mainly backed and bolstered by military aid from the West, which helped deter Russian military goals and limited their advancements.
Over a year has passed since the invasion, with combat still concentrated in the easternmost regions of Ukraine, with analysts saying Russia’s attempted winter offenses have largely failed.
Still, Russian troops have been supported by the Wagner Group, which recruited thousands of Russian prisoners last year to fight in Ukraine. Prigozhin announced in March that more than 5,000 former prisoners have been released since last summer, after fulfilling their contracts with the group, according to the outlet Meduza. Meanwhile, over 50,000 prisoners have been recruited by the Wagner Group during the winter of 2022, according to Russia Behind Bars, a nonprofit human rights organization.
“We have ground down a huge number of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and can report to ourselves that our task has been completed,” Prigozhin wrote Friday in his blog.
He also wrote that “theoretically, Russia has already achieved this decisive end by eradicating a large part of Ukraine’s active male population and intimidating another part of it that has fled to Europe.”
“Now there is only one thing left: to firmly gain a foothold, to claw in those territories that already exist. But there is a slyness – if earlier Ukraine was a part of the former Russia, now it is an absolutely national-oriented state,” Prigozhin added. “If before February 24, 2022, the European Union was greedy to give Ukraine tens of millions of dollars, now tens of billions are being turned off for the war.”
The Wagner Group leader also highlighted the importance of Bakhmut, which is located in Ukraine’s Donetsk region and has been the site of an intensified fight between Russian and Ukrainian troops, and its benefits to the Russian army.
“…the long battle for Bakhmut is extremely beneficial for Russian troops, because they have already squeezed a large piece of Ukrainian territory in 2022. If the special operation remains within these boundaries, plus or minus a couple of tens of kilometers, then this will solve many of the tasks of the NWO [National World Order]. Bakhmut makes it possible for the Russian army to build up strength, take advantageous defense lines, deal with internal problems, prepare the mobilized and fully armed to meet any number of counter-attacking airmen,” Prigozhin wrote.
He explained the significance of Bakhmut to Russia, saying that “Bakhmut is extremely beneficial for us, we grind the Ukrainian army there and restrain their maneuvers.”
A “New World Order” is a phrase that usually touts a significant geopolitical change, but it has also been used to promote a conspiracy theory stating that there is a secretive globalist authority that is ruling the world under a totalitarian regime, with one of its aims focusing on stripping countries of their sovereignty.
Earlier this month, Prigozhin contradicted a statement that he made earlier about a Russian victory in Bakhmut shortly after the Ukrainian military dismissed his claims.
He said that Bakhmut is “de jure taken” and that Ukrainian troops were “concentrated in the western area” of the city. Prigozhin later said through his press service on Telegram that “the enemy (Ukraine) is not going anywhere [from Bakhmut].”
“They organized defense inside the city, first by rail, then in the area of high-rise buildings in the western district of the city,” he said, adding that “for the time being, I think there is no talk of any offensive.”
Newsweek reached out to the Ukrainian foreign affairs ministry for comment.