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ISW: Wagner chief faces pressure, intimidation over political ambition
Some Russian strongmen may be intimidating the Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin to curb his influence and political ambition, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report.
The Russian strongmen — identified as “siloviki” in the report — rely on the intimidation tactics such as public signaling to diminish Prigozhin's political ambitions and prevent his cooperation with Russian officials.
The D.C.-based think tank assessed that the campaign has not been successful based on Wagner chief’s recent communications blaming Russian officials for seeking political gains amid the fighting in Bakhmut.
“Shoigu [Russian Minister of Defense] is reportedly unsuccessfully attempting to convince Putin to eliminate Prigozhin due to Prigozhin’s failure to secure battlefield victories — which likely indicates that Prigozhin’s bloody efforts to capture Bakhmut are in fact an attempt to compete with Shoigu for self-preservation,” the report said.
After the Russian Ministry of Defense claimed advances in Bakhmut, Prigozhin denied their claims and “criticized the MoD for falsely portraying a retreat as capturing new positions,” the report said.
On May 17, Ukrainian military's Eastern Operational Command spokesperson Serhii Cherevatyi claimed Ukraine's Armed Forces have advanced up to 500 meters toward Bakhmut over the past day.