Wagner's Prigozhin is 'getting ambitious' says Soldatov
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Russia analyst Andrei Soldatov has explained that the head of Vladimir Putin’s Wagner mercenary force is growing increasingly power-hungry. Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin is said to be growing increasingly skilled at spotting the Kremlin’s weaknesses and exploiting them for his own political ends.
Mr Soldatov told CNN: “[Prigozhin’s] extremely ambitious and now it seems that he’s getting ambitious politically.
“He’s really good at identifying the weak spots the Kremlin has and two weeks ago it was mostly about the military and Prigozhin criticised the military openly and he got some changes.
“So the chain of command and subculture was changed and the Russian troops got a new commander.
“And now he is identifying that the Kremlin is losing information control, especially on the internet. YouTube is one of the services which is still not blocked in the country, available for the Russians and used widely for watching the news about what is going on in Ukraine.
Mr Soldatov added: “So now he’s attacking this weak spot to make himself visible and useful for Putin.”
It comes as the UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said momentum on the ground remains with Ukraine, with Crimea expected to come within range of Ukrainian artillery by the end of November.
Boris Johnson has said he does not believe Vladimir Putin will use a tactical nuclear weapon in the conflict with Ukraine, as it would be “crazy” to wreak “total disaster” on his own country.
The former prime minister said the act would “immediately tender Russia’s resignation from the club of civilised nations” and plunge the country into a “kind of cryogenic economic freeze”.
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He added that he suspects it would trigger an “absolutely hysterical reaction” in Russia itself.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said he does not think it is “credible” for Mr Putin to retain the territory his troops still hold in regions such as Kherson, in southern Ukraine.
“I don’t think that’s credible for him anymore,” he said.
This sentiment was echoed by Mr Wallace at a meeting of the Lords International Relations and Defence Committee on Tuesday.
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“The direction of travel is that I think it is likely that by the end of this month, the northern part of Kherson will be depleted of Russians or the Russians will have left that part, which brings into range parts of Crimea from long-range artillery that Ukraine held or the HIMARS-type systems,” he said.
This week, the UK’s Foreign Secretary James Cleverly warned that Russia’s assault on Ukraine is “not limited to its horrific land invasion”, as Moscow has “persistently attempted to invade Ukraine’s cyberspace, threatening critical information, services and infrastructure”.
The Government claimed Russian actors have a “long history of hostile and destabilising activity” against Ukraine, with alleged past targets including the country’s electricity grid, finance and energy sectors, Kyiv’s metro and Odessa’s airport.
Moscow has denied involvement in cyber strikes on Ukraine in the past.
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