Russia’s feared Wagner Group ‘distancing itself’ from Putin rag-tag army

Russia's feared Wagner Group mercenaries are seeking to distance themselves from the forces that Vladimir Putin has hastily rushed into the Ukraine conflict, experts say.

The Wagner Group is a private paramilitary organisation which operates at the behest of the Russian tyrant.

Headed by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and neo-Nazi Dmitry Utkin, the group of fighters – who earn much more than normal Russian soldiers – have been accused of committing atrocities in conflicts all over the world.

READ MORE: Russian spy and Wagner Group officer defect to West to spill beans on 'Putin war crimes'

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a policy research group, reported in their daily update on the Ukraine conflict on Thursday (October 13) that Prigozhin is "likely continuing efforts to distinguish himself and Wagner Group forces" from Russia's other forces.

Russia's forces continue to be bolstered by a rag-tag stream of conscripts, mobilised by Putin and sent to the frontline often without proper training or modern weapons.

Following the recent capture of Ivanhrad from Ukraine, the ISW report that Prigozhin was keen to insist that it was his men, and his men alone, who secured the success.

He told Russian outlet RIA FAN "not a single person from other units, except for employees of the Wagner Private Military Company" was involved.

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However, the annexed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) claimed that joint forces took the town.

According to the ISW, this "disconnect" and Prigozhin’s desire to ensure the Wagner Group receive "sole credit" highlights a fracture created by harsh and unprecedented criticism of the Russian army back home.

They write: "Prigozhin is jockeying for more prominence against the backdrop of his recent harsh critiques of the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) establishment."

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