Ukraine update: Wagner boss denies coup intentions and lashes out at Putin

Wagner boss denies putsch intentions

The head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has denied that his mercenaries could launch a military coup against the Kremlin. In doing so, he dismissed the accusations made by former Russian officer Igor Girkin. According to The Institute for the Study of War, Prigozhin argued that the Wagner army did not have enough soldiers for such an overthrow. In addition, Wagner does not want to bring about a revolution, as some people in Russia are demanding, but only advocate selective changes in the system. At the same time, he emphasized the good relations between the mercenary group and President Vladimir Putin.

As Prigozhin vaguely implied, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu could very well stage a coup — after all, he would have access to Russian special forces.

Prigozhin’s response to Girkin’s allegations coincides with his response to a media inquiry. In this context, the Wagner boss had criticized that Russia was making efforts to prevent the recognition of the actual war heroes, who in his eyes are the Wagner soldiers. “The officials-bureaucrats who run the Russian state must remain the heroes and they are the only ones to be thanked,” Prigozhin said. “If they are denied thanks, they say, ‘Okay, so be it, thank the President,'” the Wagner boss explained, implying that the Russian President was receiving undeserved recognition.

Russia is launching massive airstrikes against Ukraine – Zelensky thanks air defenses

After the massive Russian attacks with drones, cruise missiles and missiles, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the country’s air defense for saving hundreds of lives. There were some hits, but most of the drones and rockets were shot down, Zelensky said in a video message distributed in Kiev on Monday evening. “The world must see that terror is losing,” he said. At least a few hundred lives were saved by the anti-aircraft defense in one day, he praised.

US Patriot-type anti-aircraft systems helped destroy the evil, said Zelensky, who also called for more help to improve the country’s defenses. “And of course there is no greater humiliation for a terrorist state than the success of our warriors,” he said. “There is no alternative but the complete liberation of our country.” Zelenskyy also reported that he met with the military leadership in Kiev to discuss the steps of the major offensive against the Russian invasion. The schedule is the most important thing. “The schedule of how we will advance. We will. The decisions are made.”

On Monday, Russia launched its most massive airstrikes since the beginning of the month. There were dozens of missile and drone strikes, hour-long air alerts at night and twice during the day, and massive explosions when the flying objects were shot down. According to military information, the air defense had shot down eleven Iskander missiles in the morning. The capital Kiev was hit by such attacks for the 16th time this month. Burning fragments of fired missiles fell in some quarters. Never since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression on February 24 last year have there been so many attacks in Ukraine in one month.

Zelenskyj calls Erdogan and thanks two EU countries

Zelenskyi also informed that he congratulated the Turkish head of state Tayyip Recep Erdogan on his victory in the presidential election and counted on continued cooperation between the two countries. Ukraine and Turkey must work to strengthen security in the region, in Europe and in the world, Zelenskyy said. Despite Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Turkey, a NATO country, has close ties to Russia and does not support the West’s sanctions against the resource superpower.

Zelenskyy thanked Erdogan for personally lobbying earlier this month for a two-month extension of the agreement with Russia to ship Ukrainian grain across the Black Sea. Turkey has thus made a contribution to food safety in the world, said Zelenskyj. Russian President Vladimir Putin also congratulated Erdogan on the victory in a telephone call and, according to the Kremlin, spoke out in favor of expanding cooperation between the two countries.

The Ukrainian leader also especially thanked Denmark and the Netherlands for their military assistance. Denmark’s defense aid alone will now total 4.7 billion US dollars (4.38 billion euros). “It’s very important,” said Zelenskyy. He also spoke to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte about the new fighter jet coalition. Ukraine hopes that the planned delivery of F-16 fighter jets will strengthen its air defenses and provide even better protection for people.

Ukrainian defense minister hopes for German Eurofighters

In his own words, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Resnikov sees the possibility of delivery of Eurofighters from Germany. “If Great Britain and Germany were to combine their capacities in the Eurofighter, that would be an important step,” he told the newspapers of the Funke media group and the French newspaper “Ouest France” (Tuesday).

There is already an international coalition of main battle tanks with the core model of the German Leopard 2 and American Abrams and British Challengers. You could also form a fighter jet coalition with the core model F-16 as well as Eurofighters and Swedish Gripen jets, Resnikov explained. In the middle of the month, Germany and Great Britain had ruled out supplying fighter jets to Ukraine in the foreseeable future.

Ukraine approves sanctions on Iran

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament passed the 50-year sanctions against Iran demanded by Zelenskyy. Trade in military equipment and so-called dual-use goods, which can be used for civil and military purposes, are to be banned.

Ukraine wants to end its economic and financial obligations to Iran and stop the export of capital to the Islamic Republic. Zelenskyj had also spoken out in favor of a ban on technology transfer and investments in Iran. The National Security Council had previously approved the decision.

The background to the tensions between Kiev and Tehran is the ongoing Russian drone attacks on Ukraine. According to Ukrainian information, Moscow mainly uses so-called kamikaze drones of the Iranian type Shahed-136/131. Iran denies this. Only on Sunday did it become known that Iran’s exports to Russia in the past Persian calendar year (until the end of March) increased by 30 percent compared to the same period last year to around 744 million US dollars (around 693 million euros).

What will be important on Tuesday

Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine. In the ruined town of Bakhmut, which was occupied by Russian troops and once had a population of 70,000, the fighters of Wagner’s private army want to continue their retreat. The regular Russian army is supposed to take control there. However, the Ukrainian leadership is still not giving up on Bakhmut and wants to recapture the city, like all areas occupied by Russian troops.

Jean Harris

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