Something strange is happening to Yevgeny Prigozhin. The chief of Vladimir Putin’s mercenary army in Ukraine has begun withdrawing his forces from Bakhmut, has all but conceded defeat in one of his most bizarre interviews yet, and, to top it off, now the journalist who interviewed him has been fired.
‘We came in boorishly, trampling all over Ukraine’s territory in search of Nazis. And while we searched for Nazis, we fucked up everyone we could,’ Prigozhin told the pro-war political journalist Konstantin Dolgov in an interview on Tuesday.
‘The special military operation was done for the purpose of ‘denazification’…But we ended up legitimising Ukraine. We’ve made Ukraine into a nation known all over the world. As for demilitarisation…. Fuck knows how, but we’ve militarised Ukraine!’
While Prigozhin has been known in the past for expletive-ridden tirades against defense minister Sergei Shoigu – raising some serious questions about why the Kremlin would allow him to do so while jailing others for far less – his latest sounds more like a litany of accusations levelled by Ukraine’s Western supporters against Russia. Russia’s most well-armed ‘patriot’ is basically admitting abuses in Ukraine and acknowledging that the ‘special military operation’ is a failure.
Earlier this month, Prigozhin threatened to withdraw his forces from Bakhmut, the eastern Ukrainian town that Wagner, his private military company, has been fighting for over eight months, losing some 20,000 soldiers in the process. But instead, after getting some token concessions from the defense ministry, Wagner pressed on. On 20 May, he claimed to have taken control of the town. Now, speaking from its ruins, Prigozhin announced that Wagner has begun withdrawing its forces from the captured city and handing over its positions to the Russian army. In a coup de grace of his brutal competition with defense minister Shoigu – signalling his magnanimity in a double-entendre – he ordered