Wagner’s fighters were urged to switch sides by pro-Ukrainian Russian soldiers

A squad of Russian military volunteers, who fought for Ukraine’s sovereignty, delivered a new message to the Wagner Group militants in the wake of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s supposed death: Join us and fight the Kremlin.

Prigozhin is among 10 members of the paramilitary group believed to have been killed on Wednesday while on board a plane that crashed in Russia, which some say was shot down by Russian defense ministry air missiles. The incident occurred two months to the day that Prigozhin and his mercenaries staged an attempted rebellion against the Kremlin that lasted less than 24 hours but caught the world’s attention.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was closely allied with the private military contractor and oligarch, broke his silence on rumors of Prigozhin’s death, calling him “a man with no easy fate” who made “colossal mistakes” but who was also a formidable figure. An ally against what he refers to as the neo-Nazi regime in Ukraine.

“I appeal to the PMC (Private Military Company) Wagner fighters, for whom valor and honor still have at least some meaning,” Denis Nikitin (Kapustin), leader of the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK), said in a video released by the group on Thursday. on telegram. “It is clear that your founding father and your leaders were cynically executed yesterday. And you know very well who is behind it.

Members of the Russian Volunteer Corps on May 24, 2023. Standing in the middle of the front, Denis “White Rex” Nikitin (Kasputin) extends a call to Wagner Group fighters to join his group’s cause against the Russian military in light of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s move. supposed death.Russian Volunteer Corps

“Therefore, now you are faced with a serious choice: either stand in the booth of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and act as a watchdog over the executioners of your leaders, or take revenge. To take revenge, you need to go further. On the side of Ukraine. If you have not committed war crimes, we invite you to join to our ranks.”

Nikitin concluded his statement: “Let’s finish the bloody meat grinder SVO (Special Military Operation) together, and then we will march towards Moscow. This time we will not stop at 200 kilometers of the Moscow Ring Road, but we will come to the end.” “.

Nikitin, whose real family name was Kapustin, was nicknamed “White Rex” and was a well-known figure in Russia’s right-wing social milieu, according to Open Democracy.

The nickname reportedly referred to a streetwear brand he started in the late 2000s that had pagan and neo-Nazi symbols. Funding from the products is said to have sponsored weightlifting and mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions.

He also expressed support for the Ukrainian Azov Regiment, a volunteer paramilitary group started in 2014 with the aim of fighting pro-Russian forces in the Donbass region around the same time that Russia annexed Crimea.

“The whole chain of events, from the attempted mutiny to the downing of Prigozhin’s plane, would not have happened without the professional, energetic and stubborn resistance of the Ukrainian army to the Russian invasion,” said Mikhail Alexeyev, a professor of political science. He said at San Diego State University Newsweek By email.

He referred to the efforts of Wagner’s forces, ultimately on behalf of the Kremlin, by fighting for months in the “meat grinder” of Bakhmut. And last July, a Wagner channel on the “Telegram” application announced that about 22,000 mercenaries were killed fighting the Ukrainians, while about 40,000 were injured in the 18-month-old war.

“(Wagner) was going through such a massive and senseless loss of life that even Prigozhin’s callous and brutal personality exploded and attacked Russia’s high command,” Alexeyev said. “This suggests that the battlefield in Ukraine will be the deciding factor, if one is to expect any regime shift in Russia — and that Western military support may be the most important and effective means of removing Putin from power.”

Nikitin’s efforts to attract Wagner fighters also states that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense “guarantee you security and decent conditions”.

Newsweek I reached out to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense via e-mail for comment.

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