In a significant development shedding light on the internal strife within Russia’s offensive on Ukraine, the notorious Wagner mercenary group announced on Sunday that they had apprehended a Russian officer responsible for firing upon their positions during the battle for Bakhmut last month.
In a video of the interrogation, Lieutenant Colonel Roman Venevitin, the commander of the Russian Ground Forces’ 72nd Independent Motorized Rifle Brigade, admitted to leading a group of 10-12 soldiers who opened fire on a Wagner vehicle.
Venevitin claimed they had been ordered to “disarm” the rapid response unit. Displaying a nasal fracture and situated in an undisclosed underground facility, he confessed to acting under the influence of alcohol and personal animosity.
The leader of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had previously released a document that described a violent confrontation between his mercenaries and Russian soldiers, directly accusing Venevitin’s brigade as the responsible party.
Dated May 17, the document recounted how Wagner soldiers had witnessed Defense Ministry troops laying mines in the mercenary group’s rear positions south of Bakhmut, located in the Donetsk region. Subsequently, Defense Ministry forces engaged Wagner sappers dispatched to clear minefields in two villages to the south of Bakhmut.
The authenticity of the interrogation video and the claims presented in Prigozhin’s document could not be independently verified by The Moscow Times.
Notably, Prigozhin triumphantly declared the capture of Bakhmut, the site of the most protracted and bloodiest battle in Russia’s 15-month invasion of Ukraine, less than a week after the aforementioned firefight.
As an ally of President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin has been engaged in frequent clashes with Russia’s Defense Ministry in recent months. He has openly criticized Russian generals, citing incompetence, and expressed discontent over the disproportionate loss of Wagner fighters due to insufficient ammunition supplies.
It remains unclear whether Wagner troops have since returned Venevitin to the Defense Ministry in the approximately three weeks that have transpired since the alleged firefight occurred.
Watch the video below
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