Wagner boss denies accusations he could stage coup in Russia - ISW

Wagner boss denies accusations he could stage coup in Russia - ISW

The leader of Russia's Wagner mercenary group has denied accusations they could stage a military coup against the Kremlin, according to the Insitute for the Study of War (ISW).

The US-based think tank reported Yevgeny Prigozhin argued his mercenary force could not topple the Kremlin because it lacked the manpower, following a claim by former Russian military commander Igor Girkin it wanted to do so.

Prigozhin and the Wagner group he founded have gained notoriety fighting in Ukraine, especially amid the bloody battle for Bakhmut.

The outspoken mercenary leader has openly criticised the Russian military and Kremlin over its campaign, with some suggesting he is eyeing up political power.

Speaking to Euronews in April, two experts ruled out his chances of becoming president, with Russian politics analyst Mark Galeotti saying it was "dangerous" to be talked about this way.

Prigozhin's political enemies - especially those in the military establishment - are “very happy” to encourage such ideas to drive a wedge between him and Russian President Vladimir Putin, he added.

The mercenary leader said on Monday there are many types of coup around the world, such as the "chaotic" one in Sudan, which take too long and result in a major conflict, reported the ISW.

He claimed Wagner - which the US claimed in February has suffered more than 30,000 casualties in Ukraine - does not have a large enough army required to carry out a coup - besides Wagner has good relations with Putin.

Mark Beissinger, Professor of Politics at Princeton University previously told Euronews Prigozhin is “useful” to Putin because he provides "services to the state during the war that the military is unable to provide.”

Prigozhin vaguely implied that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu could stage a coup as he has access to the Russian Special Forces, in his comments on Monday.

He added that while some individuals in Russia are expecting a revolution Wagner is only advocating for corrections to the political system.

On Sunday, the 61-year-old claimed Kremlin officials banned reporting about him on state media, accusing them of downplaying his role in the fight for Bakhmut.

"Wagner is not a piece of slippery soap which the bureaucrats have got used to shoving all over the place," he said.

"Wagner is an awl, a stiletto that you cannot hide."