Ukraine war

Wagner leader criticizes Russia's elite after Moscow drone attack

Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner group, released a video reportedly from Bakhmut in March 2023. (Photo: Telegram)

The chief of Russia's Wagner mercenary force has once again criticized the Russian military and political elite after the drone attack on Moscow, which injured two people, caused property damage, and left some furious that the Kremlin had not adequately protected the capital city.

In an expletive-laden statement posted on Telegram by his press service on Tuesday, Yevgeny Prigozhin – whose mercenary fighters have played a significant role in the conflict in Ukraine – blamed the drone attack on out-of-touch officials residing in the affluent Moscow suburb of Rublyovka.

Prigozhin's statement read, "You, the Defense Ministry, have done nothing to launch an offensive."

"How dare you allow the drones to reach Moscow?"

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Prigozhin directed his ire at wealthy residents of the affluent Rublyovka neighborhood in the western suburbs of Moscow, referring to them as "scum" and "pigs" who remained silent as Moscow was attacked.

Alexander Khinshtein, a prominent member of Russia's parliament from the ruling United Russia bloc, stated in a post on Telegram after Tuesday's attack that three of the eight drones had been shot down over three villages in Rublyovka, one of which is located just 10 minutes from the residence of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Novo-Ogaryovo.

Most of Russia's political, commercial, and cultural elite reside in Rublyovka, a collection of gated communities in the forest west of Moscow that once boasted some of the world's most expensive real estate. Former Russian presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Mikhail Mishustin reportedly own residences in Rublyovka, along with many of Russia's wealthiest business leaders.

Wagner boss Prigozhin, known for his blunt and frequently foul language, has repeatedly portrayed Rublyovka's residents as an out-of-touch elite insufficiently committed to the war in Ukraine and blamed the top commanders for Russian military failures.

Russian military blogger Igor Girkin, a Dutch court found guilty of the murder of 298 people killed when flight MH17 was shot down over Russian-controlled eastern Ukraine in 2014, also criticized Rublyovka residents on Tuesday, claiming that they "never thought about the country."

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) wrote on Wednesday that he criticized Putin for referring to Ukraine's conflict as a "special military operation" despite drone strikes on the Russian capital.

Following the drone attacks, Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader of the Russian province of Chechnya, urged the Kremlin to proclaim martial law nationwide and use all of its resources in Ukraine "to sweep away that terrorist gang."

The ISW, a thinking center in Washington, DC, reported that Kadyrov warned European nations against supplying Ukraine with weapons, stating that "if they continue to supply Ukraine with weapons, they will lack the means to defend themselves when Russia 'knocks on their doors.'"

Observers of the Kremlin noted that Putin's calm response to the drone attack contrasted sharply with the angry pronouncements of Russian hawks and appeared to reflect his belief that the attack would not unsettle the Russian public.

Putin stated that it was evident that Moscow's air defenses must be strengthened against what he termed "terrorism" in Ukraine.

Legitimate Defense

Russia's envoy to the United States stated on Wednesday that by not condemning the drone attack on Moscow, the United States was encouraging Kyiv to conduct such attacks.

The White House stated that it does not support assaults within Russia and is still gathering information regarding the incident.

"What are these efforts to conceal behind the phrase 'gathering information'?" Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, stated via the Telegram messaging channel.

"This is encouragement for Ukrainian terrorists," he stated.

James Cleverly, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, stated on Tuesday, without remarking specifically on the Moscow drone attacks, that Ukraine had the right to attack Russian targets in self-defense.

During a press conference with his Estonian counterpart Margus Tsahkna in the Estonian capital Tallinn, Cleverly stated, "Ukraine does have the legal right to defend itself."

"It has the legitimate right to do so within its borders, but it also has the right to project force beyond its borders to undermine Russia's ability to project force into Ukraine," he said. Therefore, legitimate military targets outside Ukraine's borders are part of its self-defense. And we should acknowledge that" he continued.

According to the regional governor, Wednesday marked the third occasion in a week that Ukrainian forces shelled a Russian town close to the border, damaging buildings and setting vehicles on fire.

Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov stated that at least one individual was injured in the Shebekino artillery attack.

Wednesday, a Ukrainian drone started a fire at the Afipsky oil refinery in southern Russia, according to the governor of the Krasnodar region.

The fire was quickly contained, and there were no casualties, Governor Veniamin Kondratyev reported via the Telegram messaging app. The Afipsky refinery is close to the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and is close to a second refinery that has been attacked multiple times this month.

Publish : 2023-05-31 12:30:00

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