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Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has warned of the potential of another Russian revolution akin to that of 1917 unless the strategy of the war in Ukraine is drastically altered.

Russia’s top mercenary leader said in a post on Telegram that the number of casualties suffered by common people in the war in Ukraine while elites in Moscow “shook their arses” could lead to widespread unrest and that the imposition of martial law could be required to prevent a full-blown revolution.

“We are in such a condition that we could effing lose Russia – that is the main problem… We need to impose martial law,” Prigozhin said according to a translation by the Reuters news agency.

“First the soldiers will stand up, and after that – their loved ones will rise up,” he continued. “There are already tens of thousands of them – relatives of those killed. And there will probably be hundreds of thousands – we cannot avoid that.”

“This divide can end as in 1917 with a revolution,” the Wagner boss warned, referencing the communist overthrow of the Romanov royal family by the communist uprising led by Vladimir Lenin a century ago.

He claimed that his mercenary group had recruited some 50,000 convicted prisoners so far in the war, 20 per cent of whom have died, while 10,000 of his guns for hire had also died in the fighting. Prigozhin then claimed some 50,000 Ukrainians were killed in the long-lasting battle of Bakhmut, which Wagner claimed victory over last week.

Although exact numbers are difficult to quantify, the White House claimed earlier this month that Russia had suffered 100,000 deaths in Bakhmut and other areas of Ukraine over the previous five months, alone, with 20,000 being Wagner soldiers.

Prigozhin, who has long been rumored as a potential challenger to replace Vladimir Putin, went on to take aim at the purpose of the war as a whole, specifically the stated aim of the conflict, to “demilitarize” Ukraine.

Speaking with pro-Kremlin war blogger Konstantin Dolgov, he said:

“So if Ukraine had at the start of it 500 tanks – now they have 5,000. If there were 20,000 men who were able to fight – now there are 400,000. So how exactly did we demilitarize it? Quite the opposite! We militarized it up to the brim. I think Ukrainians today are one of the world’s strongest armies. They have high levels of organization, training, military intelligence.”


The mercenary leader went on to criticize the military leadership in Moscow, first calling them out for failing to send their own sons to die in the war, and for having “effed up” strategically.

Prigozhin singled out Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov for having failed in the war effort, not least of which, in his perspective, failing to supply his mercenaries with proper levels of ammunition. He also pointed to the recent apparent counter-invasion of the Russian region of Belgorod as a failure of military leadership.

“Without a doubt, the death penalty will be brought back because we are in a state of war… and the guilty people will receive their punishment – as a minimum, they’ll be hanged on the Red Square,” the Wagner chief said in a veiled reference to the two military leaders.

According to Prigozhin, the only way to turn around the war would be to completely transform Russia into a war economy, saying that the entire nation should be tasked with the production of weapons.

“Stop building skyscrapers, new roads, new infrastructure – and work only for the war. We must live like in North Korea for several years, and shut the borders,” he said.

Does that sound like a winning strategy to you?


Kurt Zindulka is a Czech journalist who reports from London.