IThe dispute escalated in Putin’s inner circle. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu wants to finally bring the head of the Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, under his control. Putin’s former chef has long been revolting and waging a public power struggle against Shoigu. But the latter contractually wants to take under his command all the private armies fighting on the side of Moscow by July 1 – but Prigozhin declares that he will not sign any such contract “because Shoigu cannot command military formations normally.”
Officially, through contracts with the Ministry of Defense, volunteer organizations fighting for Russia will receive the same legal status and state benefits as the regular Russian army. According to Shoigu’s deputy, Nikolai Pankov, this would also improve military capabilities. But for many observers, it is primarily aimed at bringing Rigozhin’s mercenary group under better control of the Defense Ministry. In the past, Prigozhin has repeatedly threatened to act alone or withdraw his forces without orders. Now she is allowed to return to confrontation.