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Ukraine war: Wagner detains Russian officer over ‘drunk’ attack

The Wagner mercenary group says it has detained a regular Russian army officer, who allegedly opened fire on a Wagner vehicle in Ukraine.

In a video, the officer says that the incident happened while he was drunk, because of his dislike for Wagner.

Earlier, the group’s boss said the Russian army had mined the roads Wagner used to leave the city of Bakhmut.

There are longstanding tensions between Wagner and Russia’s regular army, although they fight on the same side.

The head of the private military company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has launched several scathing attacks on Russia’s most senior defence officials, complaining frequently of a lack of ammunition during the battle for Bakhmut in Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region.

The Wagner group led the fighting there for the Russian side, which became the longest and bloodiest battle of the war.

Last month, it claimed to have taken full control of the city and would transfer control to the Russian army.

In a video posted on the Telegram channel of Mr Prigozhin’s press office, the Russian officer is seen being questioned about the incident.

In it, he says he opened fire on a Wagner vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol, because of his “personal animosity”.

He also claims that between 10 and 12 of his subordinates disarmed a group of Wagner fighters, although it isn’t clear if this was part of the same incident.

Asked why he doesn’t like the Wagner group, he replied that he “doesn’t know”.

Shortly before the video was released, Mr Prigozhin published a report claiming that groups connected to Russia’s defence ministry had planted explosives on the roads out of Bakhmut, which Wagner fighters were using to pull out of the city.

Asked by a journalist for proof of the defence ministry’s involvement in that episode, Mr Prigozhin replied by publishing the video of the detained officer.

“Here is the cherry on the cake, so there is no doubt,” he wrote, although the officer appears to be talking about a different incident.

Although it is difficult to verify the claims made by the Wagner group, the latest allegations are another sign of the difficult relationship between the private military company, which suffered huge losses in the fight for Bakhmut, and Russia’s defence ministry.

On Monday, Mr Prigozhin again criticised Russia’s military leadership, claiming that the Russian army had lost control of some of its positions around Bakhmut, describing it as a “disgrace”.

He appealed to Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, to travel to the front line and rally the troops, who he claimed were quietly retreating.

“You can do it! And if you can’t, you’ll die heroes,” he remarked.

Source: BBC

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