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    Russian military officials want to oust Prigozhin and the Wagner Group

    Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

    “Russian military command may be shifting away from its reliance on Wagner Group and therefore on using prisoners as cannon fodder,” assesses the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in a recent report.

    The ISW draws attention to a statement by Prigozhin, who notified that the recruitment of prisoners for the war had “completely stopped” and that “all obligations have been fulfilled”. According to the US think tank, the influential businessman will continue to recruit, but “to a much-reduced extent”, continuing a trend that has been ongoing for some time.

    “This phenomenon is consistent with the overall trend of conventional Russian troops slowly replacing the Wagner Group around Bakhmut, indicating that Russian military command may be shifting away from its reliance on Wagner and therefore on using prisoners as cannon fodder,”

    the analysts believe.

    The Kremlin, the ISW points out, is continuing its efforts to prepare the Russian defence industry base for a prolonged war, while trying to avoid wider economic mobilisation. Such measures, according to the centre, do not correspond to the large scale of warfare and in the context of Russia’s heavy equipment losses at the front.

    Russians lost up to half of their tanks

    US analysts cite data from the Dutch Oryx Project, considered a reliable source, on armaments, that Russia’s overall losses in armoured weapons (destroyed and seized by the Ukrainians) are about half the number of tanks sent to the front at the start of the invasion (1012 destroyed and 546 seized).

    ISW also cites a statement by Dmitry Medvedev, deputy head of the Russian Security Council, who argued during a visit to a tank factory in Omsk that Russia needed to increase production because of Western supplies to Ukraine. According to the ISW, this narrative is meant to conceal that the reason for the production increase is the heavy losses on the frontline.

    The think tank also notes the harsh criticism from bloggers linked to Prigozhin against the defence ministry, the cause of which was another corruption scandal – the awarding of a tender for uniforms for the military (of poor quality at inflated prices) to the son of one of the officials.

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