Former Russian commander Igor Girkin warned on Sunday that the Wagner Group, a private military company, will not hesitate to kill Russians if ordered to by its founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a short-term mutiny against the Russian defense ministry last month.
Prigozhin rebelled against the Russian defense ministry on June 23 and accused Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military of attacking Wagner’s positions in Ukraine amid the ongoing war that began last February.
He announced at the time that his mercenary group controlled the military sites in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. The Wagner Group controlled important security sites, including the headquarters that run Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, the British defense ministry said in one of its assessments last month.
However, Prigozhin’s efforts to advance in Moscow with his forces were de-escalated the next day after negotiations were done with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, one of Putin’s top allies. Prigozhin at the time said that his convoys were turning around to head back to their field camps.
Girkin wrote on his Telegram channel on Sunday, that even though its revolt failed, the Wagner Group “perfectly demonstrated their readiness” to “kill their fellow citizens right and left” in the future under commands from their “maniac” leader, who was once a Putin ally.
“Slogans of the so-called ‘march of justice’ became a reference point in the further existence of this PMC and those forces who remained in the specified illegal armed formation under the command of [Prigozhin] are the same traitors to Russia as he is,” he wrote. “It is exactly the same and nothing else, simply because now Prigozhin’s ‘private army’ has no moral right to be considered the defender of the Fatherland. And its fighters defend their right to kill anyone, anywhere for the money that their ’employer’ pays them.”
Girkin added that the Wagner Group didn’t “suffer the slightest punishment” for its failed mutiny against Russia.
Meanwhile, Putin called Wagner Group’s rebellion a “stab in the back” and vowed to take “decisive action.”
“Those who have organized an armed rebellion will be held accountable,” Putin said in a televised address without referring to Wagner or Prigozhin. “Those who have been drawn into this I call on you to stop your criminal actions.”
The Russian president said that the troops “who went on the path of treason will be punished and will be held accountable,” adding that “the armed forces have been given the necessary orders.”
Putin later exiled the Wagner Group forces to Belarus after its failed revolt against Russian military leadership, which came after months of tensions between Prigozhin and the defense ministry over the Russian military’s performance in Ukraine.
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