Yevgeny Prigozhin made an unprecedented call on Russians to take his side in a high-profile conflict with the defence ministry


  • Yevgeny Prigozhin last week claimed the Russian army does 'absolutely nothing' in Africa
  • Russia responded by saying it has a number of international events dedicated to Africa
  • The ISW said Russia's response likely seeks to discredit and undermine Prigozhin

The conflict between the Russian military and the infamous Wagner private military company (PMC) may have worsened after the Russian Foreign Ministry (MFA) directly responded to recent criticism from Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin over the weekend.

Last Friday, Prigozhin swiped at the Russian defense ministry's work in Africa, claiming that Russia's military does "absolutely nothing" while Wagner fighters are facing "enormous difficulties" in the region.

Contradicting Prigozhin's statement, the ministry said over the weekend that it is "ready to cooperate with Russian businesses and entrepreneurs to promote Russian businesses abroad and that a number of upcoming events under Russia's UNSC chairmanship are dedicated to African issues."

"It is easy to see that a number of international events are devoted to the African agenda: a briefing and consultations of the UN Multidisciplinary Mission in Mali are scheduled for April 12, a briefing and consultations for the United Nations Mission of Support in Libya are scheduled for April 18, issues of Libyan sanctions will also be discussed, April 19 - consultations with the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara," the defense ministry wrote in a Telegram post.

"In addition, during the period of the Russian presidency, there are several reporting dates according to the reports of the UN missions in the countries of the African continent."

It is the first time the Russian defense ministry directly addressed Prigozhin's attacks in what The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) characterized as part of the MFA's efforts to "discredit and undermine Prigozhin."

"The MFA, other Russian government institutions, and Kremlin affiliates likely seek to shut down any attempts by Prigozhin to garner public or political support," the ISW said in its latest assessment.

The think tank also noted previous incidents wherein the Russian defense ministry refused to credit Wagner for making advances in the battle of Bakhmut as well as Prigozhin calling out the Russian military for refusing to give his troops ammunition to use in the war.

It is unclear how the MFA's response will affect Prigozhin's relationship with the Kremlin. However, a previous report suggested that the Wagner head may consider pulling his troops out of the Ukraine war and shifting their focus elsewhere due to internal conflict.

Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has said his forces are still suffering losses