Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin says Russia has already accomplished its goals in Ukraine—but must keep fighting even if it means humiliating defeat so that the country can ultimately rise again as a “war monster” that the international community will bow down to.
After recruiting thousands of prison inmates to help fight the war for Vladimir Putin and using his shadow army to emerge as a rival to Russia’s top military brass, the mercenary boss and Kremlin-linked businessman offered his thoughts on the state of the war in a lengthy article published Friday. In addition to predicting that Russia would ultimately come back stronger than ever, Prigozhin appeared to admit that Ukraine may win its territories back, acknowledged that the Kremlin’s plan had failed, and predicted a full-blown revolution in Russia.
“For the authorities and for society as a whole, it is necessary today to put a decisive end to the [special military operation.] The ideal scenario 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. We have ground down a huge number of fighters of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and we can report that the tasks of the [special military operation] have been completed,” he wrote.
He claimed that “in theory,” Russia had already put a decisive end to the war by wiping out a huge chunk of Ukraine’s male population, sending refugees fleeing, and seizing territory. Omitted, of course, was that the same could be said about Russia on the first two points.
And bizarrely, amidst all of his pontificating, Prigozhin appeared to admit that Ukrainian territories seized by Russia aren’t actually with Moscow “forever,” as the Kremlin has so often claimed.
Ukraine stands to lose if the war comes to a standstill, he said, because “those territories, that are today under the control of the Russian Federation, can stay at the disposal of the Russian Federation for years.”
Lest anyone think he’s suggesting Russia should call it quits, however, Prigozhin went on to cheer on a planned counteroffensive by Ukraine—saying “the sooner it starts, the better.”
But he admitted the result could prove catastrophic to Russia, saying it’s “not very likely” Moscow could launch a “colossal counteroffensive” of its own and take territory deeper into Ukraine.
He also acknowledged that “many of those who initially supported [the war], are now doubtful, or categorically opposed to what’s happening,” and confessed that Russia “could not achieve the results that society expected.”
If Ukraine’s counteroffensive manages to break through Russian defenses, he said, “an army that for years considered itself one of the best in the world” would be thoroughly demoralized.
In that case, he said, “global changes in Russian society” could lead to an all-out revolution as pro-war patriots seek revenge against bureaucrats and figures who were either critical of the war or reluctant to use harsher battlefield methods.
His solution, strangely, is for Russia to let itself sink to rock bottom by doubling down even further despite its myriad losses over the past year. According to him, that’s America’s worst nightmare, because “if Russia gets to the bottom, then it will push off from there … and float back up like a huge sea monster, demolishing everything in its path, including the plans of the United States.”
He appeared to shrug off further losses and even a “battering” of the Russian military, saying Russia would simply “lick its wounds” if defeated in a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
“Russia cannot accept any agreement, only a fair fight. And if we come out of this battle battered, there is nothing to worry about.”
His comments came the same day classified U.S. documents said Russian special forces had been decimated fighting the war against Ukraine. Separately, a joint investigation by the independent media outlet MediaZona and the BBC’s Russian service counted 20,451 Russian troops killed so far in the war. The true number is thought to be significantly higher, as that tally includes only those confirmed through open source data.