11:25 p.m. ET, May 23, 2023
Ukraine’s ‘highly organized and highly trained’ army is one of the ‘strongest’ in the world, says Wagner chief
From CNN’s Mariya Knight
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, claimed on Tuesday that his men were the strongest fighters, but acknowledged that the Ukrainian army had also fought hard, especially in the eastern town of Bakhmut.
In an interview with pro-Moscow blogger Konstantin Dolgov, Prigozhin said Ukrainians are “highly organized, highly trained and their intelligence is at the highest level, they can operate any military system with equal success, Soviet or NATO”.
“Now I can judge it from my own experience, I know how different countries fight (..) today Wagner PMC is the best army in the world, and after that, of course, I have to say it should be the Russian army in order to be politically correct, but I believe the Ukrainians today are one of the strongest armies in the world,” Prigozhin said.
Over the weekend, Wagner claimed he had taken all the territory he had planned and would leave the front line in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, leaving the fighting to the Russian Ministry of Security. Defense.
Prigozhin has criticized Russian military leaders on several occasions in the past, including earlier this month when he accused Russian defense chiefs of “tens of thousands” of Wagner casualties because they did not have enough ammunition.
In the interview, Prigozhin said that more than 10,000 Wagner soldiers died in the Battle of Bakhmut. And he admitted that Russia hasn’t had much success in its goal to “demilitarize Ukraine.”
“At the beginning of the special military operation they (the Ukrainians) had, say, 500 tanks and now they have 5,000 tanks, and if only 20,000 people knew how to fight then, now there are 400,000 people who know how to fight. So how did we demilitarize it (Ukraine)? It looks like we did the opposite, we militarized it,” he told Dolgov.
Attacks in Russia: Separately, when asked about cross-border incursions into Belgorod claimed by anti-Putin Russians this week, Prigozhin said: “Russian Volunteer Corps groups are shamelessly entering the Belgorod region,” and Russian defense forces are not “absolutely not prepared to resist them in any form.” or the shape.