Yevgeny Prigozhin, the boss of the mercenary Wagner Group, has poured scorn on Russia’s defence ministry after it claimed it thwarted a “large-scale” offensive by Ukraine inflicting heavy losses.
Prigozhin, whose forces spent months fighting in the eastern Ukrainian town of Bakhmut and who is a frequent critic of Russia’s military top brass, dismissed their latest claims as “wild fantasies” on his Telegram channel on Tuesday morning.
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Russia’s defence ministry said on Monday that its forces had repelled a major Ukraine offensive in the southern part of the Donetsk region, destroying military equipment and killing some 1,500 Ukrainian troops.
There was no immediate comment from Kyiv about Russia’s assertions and it was not possible to verify the claims. Both countries have often made claims of inflicting heavy human losses on each other that could not be independently verified.
“To destroy one and a half thousand people, it must be such a massacre, within one day, over 150 kilometres [90 miles], one hell of a massacre,” Prigozhin said in response to the claims.
“Therefore, I think that these are just some wild fantasies.”
Adding up the figures provided by the ministry would imply “we have already destroyed the entire planet five times over”, he added sarcastically.
Prigozhin has been embroiled in an increasingly public spat with Russia’s regular army, unleashing often foul-mouthed video tirades in which he has vehemently criticised Moscow’s military leadership.
Wagner troops led the months-long assault on the now-ruined Bakhmut, claiming control of the town last month.