Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said he plans to create a private military competing with the Wagner Group.
The Wagner Group is a private military force founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, another Putin ally. The paramilitary unit has been previously accused of human rights violations and attacks on civilians in different countries, including Mali and the Central African Republic. Members of the group were also deployed in recent years to Yemen, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, and Madagascar, according to a 2022 report by Brookings Institution.
Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, said on Sunday that he plans to set up a private group after he quits public service.
“Already now we can confidently say that the Wagner has indisputably proved its effectiveness in military terms and has drawn a line under speculations about its expediency. Without any doubt, such professional formations are needed and necessary. Therefore, when I finish my work in the civil service, I seriously plan to compete with our dear BROTHER Evgeny [sic] Prigozhin and create a private military company. I think everything will work out,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.
The information has also been reported by Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, who commented on Twitter on Sunday that “Russia is in the process of turning into a decentralized feudal society.”
Kadyrov also said that the Wagner Group, which has been heavily involved in the current fighting in Ukraine and assisted the Russian military in the annexation of Crimea in 2014, achieved impressive results in the NVO (Novorossiya) zone, despite “all the difficulties.” Novorossiya or New Russia was a political project of confederation declared in 2014 of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, which were controlled by pro-Russian separatists at the time.
“The fighters of the Chechen special forces ‘Akhmat’ can best say about the positive qualities of their associates from PMCs [Private Military Companies]. Together, side by side, in close cooperation, they free the earth from fascist evil spirits…they go systematically forward, remaining faithful to duty and military honor,” he said.
Though Kadyrov is impressed with the Wagner Group’s achievements in Ukraine amid the ongoing war, which is nearing its one-year mark later this week, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a U.S.-based think tank, criticized Prigozhin’s attempts to restore his “waning influence” in the Russian political landscape.
The ISW said in an assessment on Saturday that Prigozhin had attempted to collaborate with Kadyrov in a joint effort to undermine the Russian Ministry of Defense.
“Kadyrov’s endorsement of the Russian MoD follows Prigozhin’s attempt to court Kadyrov’s support through a publicized visit to a wounded Akhmat Special Forces commander on February 16,” the think tank wrote. “Prigozhin appears to be intensifying his informational campaign against the MoD, stating on February 18 that the Wagner Group is not subordinate to the MoD and ‘has nothing to do with the Russian Army.'”
Prigozhin and Kadyrov have different attitudes towards the defense ministry, according to the ISW, which said that Kadyrov “likely refused” Prigozhin’s campaign against the ministry as he has formal ties to the Kremlin and his rule in Chechnya is backed by Putin.
“Prigozhin is likely trying to enlist ultranationalist figures within the Kremlin and select Russian milbloggers (military bloggers) to support his quest for authority in Russia but will likely find that those with ties to the Kremlin may turn away from him to retain their patronage,” the think tank added.
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