Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has deployed another private army to join Moscow’s troops in the war against Ukraine, according to a report.
The private military group, spotted near the Ukrainian city of Vuhledar in the temporarily occupied Donetsk Oblast, is also competing against the Wagner mercenary group founded by Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, Ukrainska Pravda reported.
“In particular, in the area of Stepne on the Vuhledar front, we have noticed that in addition to Wagner PMC, Patriot PMC, affiliated with the current Russian Defence Minister Shoigu, has appeared,” Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the Eastern grouping of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said in a national joint newscast, as quoted by the outlet. “Obviously, they are pulling up all combat capabilities to achieve at least some results.”
Shoigu’s deployment of the new private army comes after Prigozhin last month said he wants to punish the Russian defense minister over the defeats and failures Moscow’s troops sustained on the battlefield against Ukraine.
“Contradictions are growing among the top military leadership of the Russian Federation. Prigozhin blames the failures of Shoigu and Gerasimov, and they, in turn, nod at Putin,” the National Resistance Center reported, citing “available information,” as per a translation via Google Translate.
Prigozhin is not the only Russian figure who blamed Shoigu for Moscow’s defeats in Ukraine. Kirill Stremousov, a pro-Russia Ukrainian politician who the Kremlin installed as the puppet leader of the Kherson region, had also previously suggested that Shoigu should consider killing himself over Russia’s recent military losses, Reuters reported.
Stremousov was killed in a car crash in Kherson Oblast on Nov. 9, just hours before Shoigu ordered Russian troops to withdraw from the city of Kherson. It was the only major city Russia successfully captured in the war.
The war began in February after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in what he called a “special military operation” to “demilitarize” and “de-Nazify” the country. Since then, Russian forces have lost 103,770 military personnel, including 550 who died over the past day, according to estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
In addition, Russia has also lost 3,017 tanks, 6,037 combat armored machines, 1,999 artillery systems, 1,707 UAVs and 4,660 vehicles and fuel tanks in the conflict.