Wagner's Prigozhin tells Al Mayadeen Ukraine counteroffensive underway
Wagner PMC founder and chief Yevgeny Prigozhin tells Al Mayadeen English that Ukraine's counteroffensive is beginning as the latter pushes toward Russia in a series of attacks on Russian targets.
The events taking place in Ukraine forebode a Ukrainian counteroffensive as Kiev ups its efforts, as was expected, Russian Wagner Private Military Group Yegevny Prigozhin said answering Al Mayadeen English's questions on Thursday hours after Ukrainian attacks took place in Zaparozhye.
"I think that the events that are currently taking place at the front are the beginning of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, which is currently ramping up its efforts as expected," Prigozhin told Al Mayadeen English in an audio recording.
In response to a question about Russia's expected performance regarding the long-awaited counteroffensive set to be carried out by Ukraine in the spring, Prigozhin said "We will see in the near future... how Russia will deal with it. I hope it does well, I'm counting on it."
The Ukrainian attacks conducted on Zaparozhye were preceded by artillery strikes.
Moreover, the attacks, according to drone footage taken Wednesday during the Ukrainian offensive on the front, saw the usage of at least two German-made Leopard 2 tanks, as well as several armored personnel carriers, including US-made M113s.
The images represent the first visual confirmation that Ukrainian forces are employing Leopard 2 tanks in active combat.
What Leopards doing? pic.twitter.com/hg0ldC30hB— ZOKA (@200_zoka) June 8, 2023
It is worth noting that Wagner PMC took the lion's share in the year-long battle leading to the full control of Russia over the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region, taking thousands of casualties in the process, Prighozin said earlier.
Wagner's shows African people how to fight against aggression
Responding to a question posed by Al Mayadeen English about Wagner's efforts in Africa, the company's founder underlined that Wagner plays a major role in Africa, saying it shows the African people that they can fight against the aggression of foreign powers.
"PMC Wagner shows the African peoples that they can fight against external aggression, as well as against the actions of terrorists and gangs in Africa," Progizhin told Al Mayadeen English. "Wagner proves that African peoples can be protected."
He went on to criticize the United Nations' effort in Africa, saying the UN and other states were not engaged in the continent in this manner. "They only think about how to suck natural resources from the African subsoil."
Wagner is present in Libya, the Central African Republic, and Mali, among other African states whose governments asked for the help of the Russian PMC.
France has been deeply entrenched in Mali militarily since 2013 under the pretext of countering terrorist activities in the Sahel region after the 2011 intervention in Libya by NATO forces. The country achieved full independence after French troops withdrew from its country on August 15, 2022, following pressure from the Malian government.
Malian Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop told Al Mayadeen that France and all its partners needed to realize that Africans were perfectly capable of running their countries and choosing their partners based on their national interests.
Africa is open to establishing partners with anyone in the whole world, and the United States is an important partner, but it must take into consideration the interests and sovereignty of African states, the top Malian diplomat said.
Meanwhile, Diop underlined that Russia was a strategic partner of Mali's, as Moscow supplied Bamako with everything it asked for within the framework of its confrontation against extremist groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda.
Wagner distinct from Western PMCs
Asked about the difference between Wagner and other, Western PMCs, Prigozhin underlined that Western PMCs are private military companies, while the name just stuck with Wagner, but it is different from Western PMCs.
"PMC Wagner is a full-fledged army with aircraft, helicopters, air defense, and so on," he underlined.
"If it is necessary to stop a conflict or someone's aggression somewhere, Wagner PMC can easily deal with the issue in territories comparable to the territory of the Congo, Sudan, and other large African countries."
Wagner is known for its efforts in Ukraine alongside the Russian armed forces and in other states throughout Africa alongside the government forces.
As part of the war in Ukraine, several US PMCs were seen to be on the ground in the country. Following the beginning of the war in Ukraine, former American marines established a private military company in the US, Mozart Group, which aims to train Ukrainian soldiers and participate in the ongoing fight against Russian forces.
Mozart deployed on the frontlines in Ukraine three teams of US veterans, each team accumulating nearly $100,000 of expenses monthly according to the group's leader ex-US Marine officer Andy Milburn, The Intercept reported.
Reports say the head of Mozart Milburn managed the group "in a manner which has caused senior Ukrainian military officers to remark ‘can't he go home and stop saving our country.’"
Moreover, Blackwater's founder, a private mercenary who has massacred scores of Iraqis and is despised in Iraq more than the US soldiers themselves, established earlier another private military company called Reflex Responses – or R2 – after he sold Blackwater to investors as an escape from controversy.
The Wagner PMC, also known as the Wagner Group, is a Russian paramilitary organization or a private military company founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin that operates closely with the Russian Armed Forces that first emerged in 2014 when it helped Russia with the reunification effort with Crimea.
Wagner also operated and still operates in the Donbass People's Republics, namely Donetsk and Lugansk, as part of Russia's effort in the region.