Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin said in an interview with pro-Kremlin blogger Konstantin Dolgov on May 23 that Russia's defense forces were unprepared to resist recent incursions into Russia's Belgorod Oblast by anti-government groups who have declared themselves to be fighting on Ukraine's side.
When asked about the incursions, Prigozhin said that as “Russian Volunteer Corps groups are shamelessly entering Belgorod Oblast," Russia's military was “absolutely not ready to resist them."
Reports of fighting in Russia's Belgorod Oblast followed an announcement by armed men calling themselves the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps on May 22 who said they had crossed into Russia and taken hold of bordering villages in the oblast, which borders Ukraine in the north.
In the interview, published to Dolgov's Telegram channel "Dolgov Speaks," Prigozhin also said that he believes Ukraine now has one of the strongest armies in the world.
Despite claiming that Wagner had taken all the territories it planned to in eastern Ukraine, Prigozhin said that the Ukrainians are "highly organized, highly trained, their intelligence is on the highest level, and that they can operate any military system with equal success, including Soviet and NATO ones."
Prigozhin claimed his troops had gained full control over the embattled city of Bakhmut on May 20 in a voice message posted to Telegram. Ukraine has denied this claim.