MOSCOW, May 9 (Reuters) – Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin on Tuesday made a cryptic but profanity-laced comment about those in charge of Russia’s war on Ukraine that risks getting him into more trouble with the Kremlin.
In a long audio rant about a purported lack of ammunition for his Wagner fighters in eastern Ukraine, Prigozhin referred to a figure he called “a happy Grandfather” who thought that all was well with the military campaign, something Moscow calls a “special military operation.”
Prigozhin made the comment in reference to what he said was the continued refusal of the defence ministry to supply his fighters with the number of shells they need to take full control of the city of Bakhmut.
The defence ministry has said it is working to ensure all battlefield units have what they need.
“And the happy grandfather thinks that he is good. If he turns out to be right then may God grant everyone health. But what will the country do, our children, grandchildren who are the future of Russia, and how can we win this war if – by chance, and I’m just speculating here – it turns out that this grandfather is a complete ****head?.”
The identity of the grandfather figure Prigozhin referred to was unclear, but sufficiently ambiguous to invite speculation.
Prigozhin has previously poured scorn on Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff, but has avoided all personal criticism of President Vladimir Putin.
Analysts have said his volatile outbursts in recent days – in which he has announced that his forces will withdraw from Bakhmut because of the ammunition problem before saying they will stay and then again suggesting they may leave – looks like an attempt to try to deflect blame for a lack of swift battlefield success.