The head of the Wagner military group confirmed on Saturday, that he is ready to send his units to defend the Russian Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, which has been subjected in recent days to intense bombing and attacks.
“If the Defense Ministry doesn’t stop what is happening in the Belgorod region where Russian lands are being seized, then it’s clear that we will intervene,” Prigozhin said.
He added, in an audio message posted by his media office, “We’ll defend our people, the Russians, and everyone who lives there… My men won’t wait for an invitation or permission to deploy in the region.
“The only thing we will ask for is ammunition so that we are not empty-handed, as we say in Russia,” Prigozhin added.
In recent days, the Belgorod region, especially its areas closest to the Ukrainian border, has been subjected to unprecedented heavy fire since the start of the war in Ukraine at the end of February 2022.
Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that on Friday the area was hit by more than 500 artillery rounds, mortar shells or rocket launchers, including more than 370 in and around the town of Shepkino, adding that hundreds of civilians fled.
Gladkov announced on Saturday that two people had been killed in strikes, bringing the death toll to seven since Friday.
The authorities said that about thirty people were injured.
Moscow also announced Thursday that the Air Force and its artillery had repelled an attempted ground attack from Ukraine in the region, a week after a qualitative armed incursion showed the ease of penetrating the Russian borders.
On Saturday, Wagner’s chief accused the Russian army of “giving up” lands in the Belgorod region.
“The Defense Ministry is not in a position to do anything because it doesn’t really exist, it is in a mess,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin announced that Wagner’s forces withdrew from Bakhmut, by 90%, and handed over their positions to the Russian army, after declaring control of it on May 20.
In a related context, Wagner’s commander said in his audio message, the Kremlin’s followers are destroying Russia by sowing discord between the Chechen forces, and us, adding that these risky games have become common within the corridors of the Kremlin.