Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing a new unexpected enemy - his once close ally, Moscow caterer and owner of the Wagner mercenary forces Yevgeny Prigozhin. In its latest intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the feud between Prigozhin and Putin has reached an "unprecedented" level. The brief read: "Concurrently, the feud between Wagner Group and the Russian MoD has reached an unprecedented level.
"For the first time, Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin has claimed that the army has employed deliberate, lethal force against Wagner units.
"Following an altercation, Wagner has likely detained a Russian army brigade commander."
The update also said most of the Wagner mercenaries have left the contended city of Bakhmut, which has been one of the main and bloodiest battlefields in Ukraine during the past few weeks.
The MoD update added: "With Russia short of reserve units, the degree to which Wagner remains responsive to the MoD will be a key factor in the conflict over the coming weeks."
Prigozhin has lashed out on several occasions against the Russian leadership since the beginning of the year, accusing high-profile politicians including Sergei Shoigu of being guilty of the failure of Russia on the frontline.
He also vocally complained about lack of ammunition, and announced his troops would step back from the frontline in Bakhmut in June.
At the end of May, after a series of unmanned drones entered Moscow and reportedly crashed on buildings, Prigozhin said to be "deeply outraged" at the Russian Defence Ministry for "allowing" these vehicles to enter the skies of the capital.
Most recently, the Wagner head publicly slammed allegations made by the Russian Defence Ministry on the course of the war, a move clearly trying to undermine officials.
The Russian MoD claimed to have killed 1,500 Ukrainian soldiers in two days and to have destroyed, among other military equipment, eight main battle Leopard tanks supplied by Western allies and 109 armoured vehicles.
However, Prigozhin simply dismissed these claims of success on the battlefield as "absurd science fiction".
Taking to the Telegram channel of his press service, the 61-year-old claimed that to kill that many Ukrainian troops it would require daily gains of 150km.
He added: "I therefore believe that this is simply wild and absurd science fiction."
While Ukrainian officials have made no mention of significant or broad advancement by Russian troops in its territory, overnight it blamed Moscow for blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam.
Explosions at the major hydroelectric plant in eastern Ukraine have unleashed flooding across the Kherson region and are threatening the lives of thousands of civilians.
Blaming "Russian terrorists" for the disaster, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Twitter that "the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam" only made it clear to the world Russian troops "must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land".
He added that "all services are working," and said he had convened his National Security and Defense Council.2023-06-06T07:58:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd