Wagner Group capo Prigozhin criticizes the Ministry of Defense and the Russian regulars for what he sees as their record of timidity and their policy of half measures.
Ukraine at D+455: Prigozhin speaks.
Yevgeny Prigozhin says his Wagner Group has begun to withdraw from Bakhmut, and will hand the city over to Russian regulars by June 1st, the Guardian reports. Prigozhin has been speaking publicly about the casualties among Wagner fighters in the fighting for Bakhmut. He puts the number of Wagner Group troops killed in action in this battle alone at "more than 20,000."
Prigozhin criticizes Russia's war effort.
Mr. Prigozhin has also been making the rounds on Russian talk shows. He's speaking directly, unambiguously, and coarsely about Russia's conduct of its war, warning that if Moscow doesn't take the gloves off in Ukraine, it's liable to face a revolution at home. As quoted by the Telegraph and the Guardian, the Wagner Group boss is singling out Russian elites for their failure to assume their fair burden of suffering. He wants the privileged to recall their children from their studies in foreign schools and send them to the front, where they'll not only boost Russian combat manpower, but where their death will serve as a salutary gesture of social equality that will lead to solidarity across Russian society. His Telegram channel said, “This divide can end as in 1917 with a revolution. First the soldiers will stand up, and after that – their loved ones will rise up. There are already tens of thousands of them – relatives of those killed. And there will probably be hundreds of thousands – we cannot avoid that.”
The Wall Street Journal writes that Mr. Prigozhin's public comments show fissures in Russia's presentation of the war. Why he's been permitted to speak is unclear. He may be serving as a check on the Defense Ministry, or he may simply have slipped his leash.
The UK's Ministry of Defence this morning pointed out a geolocation-spoofing stunt. "Analysis by Geollect indicates that since 14 May 2023, commercial vessels’ Automatic Identification System (AIS) data has been remotely spoofed to create the impression of a 65km long Russian pro-war Z symbol on the Black Sea, visible on open source tracking software. AIS is used to track vessels, including to ensure their safety. Tracks making up the image suggested vessel speeds of up to 102 knots (188 km/h), further suggesting they were fake. Pro-Russian actors likely conducted the spoofing as an information operation, potentially in an attempt to bolster Russian morale ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian counter offensive. The spoofing of AIS increases the risk of maritime accidents. Despite Russian virtual information operations in the Black Sea, its physical navy remains vulnerable: the Ivan Khurs intelligence gathering vessel was likely attacked on 24 May 2023."
What's up with KillNet.
KillNet's boss-cum-spokesperson, KillMilk, this week announced that he was firing a bunch of his hacktivists. The Russian outlet Lenta.ru reports that “According to information received from a number of Killnet participants, this is primarily about clearing the organization of small groups that make insufficient or insufficiently professional contribution to attacks on the infrastructure of Western countries. At the same time, the activities of the association will continue, although at first Killmilk really plans to work alone." So, hacktivists, up your game or you're out.