The Russian billionaire who founded and is leading the infamous Wagner mercenary group has allegedly confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin over Moscow’s losses in the war in Ukraine, according to a report.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, a known Putin ally, allegedly voiced his dissent over the mismanagement of the war in Ukraine and Moscow’s failures amid Kyiv’s counteroffensive during a private meeting with the Russian leader earlier in October, The Washington Post reported, citing two U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.
The outlet noted that the meeting between Prigozhin and Putin was deemed important enough that it was included in President Joe Biden‘s daily intelligence briefing. The Post added that Prigozhin also confronted Putin about the Russian Defense Ministry’s reliance on Wagner mercenaries but it fails to give the group sufficient money and resources to fulfill its mission in Ukraine.
The Kremlin declined to comment on the alleged confrontation. However, Prigozhin himself denied The Post’s reporting through his press service, adding that he has no right to criticize the work of the Russian military.
“First, I did not communicate personally with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin either recently or in any foreseeable future,” Prigozhin said in a statement sent to the outlet. “I did not criticize the management of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation during the conflict in Ukraine. Therefore, I cannot comment on anything.”
Prigozhin is not the only Putin ally to have voiced criticism against the Russian military and their failures in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, Chechen leader and staunch Putin supporter Ramzan Kadyrov posted a voice recording on his Telegram page where he said he was “very unhappy” with the current state of the war between Russia and Ukraine, adding that Russian leadership should not worry about angering the West.
In early October, Kadyrov also slammed the Russian army for withdrawing its troops from the strategic hub of Lyman in Donetsk Oblast, a move that allowed Ukrainian forces to liberate the city.
Reports of dissent and dissatisfaction in the Russian government come as Moscow continues to suffer from heavy losses in Ukraine. As of Tuesday, Russia has lost an estimated 68,420 soldiers in combat, per the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.