Imagen de archivo de un ambulancia. EFE/Kai Försterling

Head of Russia’s mercenary group says no to merger deal with defense ministry

Moscow, June 11 (EFE).- The head of Russia’s powerful mercenary group Wagner said Sunday that he would not sign any merger contract with the Russian defense ministry.

Yevgeny Prigozhin has thus rejected Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s proposal to bring under his control the Wagner group that was highly effective in taking the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in May after a battle that lasted for months.

“These orders and decrees signed by Shoigu apply to employees of the ministry of defense and military personnel. The private military company Wagner will not sign any contracts with Shoigu,” Prigozhin said on his Telegram channel.

Highly critical of the defense minister and the Russian armed forces chief Valery Gerasimov, Prigozhin argued that the group was an independent and “highly effective” force.

“Unfortunately, most military units do not have such efficiency, precisely because Shoigu cannot properly manage military formations,” the Wagner chief said.

He emphasized that in terms of subordination, Wagner is “completely subordinate to the interests of the Russian federation and supreme commander-in-chief” President Vladimir Putin.

“On the ground, according to the orders of Gerasimov and Shoigu, Wagner coordinates all its actions and carries out tasks in Ukraine set by Army General Sergei Surovikin, an intelligent, competent, and experienced commander.”

On Saturday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov said that the volunteer detachments must sign a contract with the defense ministry by July 1 to grant them “the necessary legal status and create unified approaches in organizing their tasks” in Ukraine. EFE