The head of the Wagner mercenary group repeatedly criticizes the Russian military leadership. Defense Minister Shoigu is also in the firing line. This is now apparently sending fighters from the Patriot military company to the Donbass. The security company is considered a competitor of the Wagner group.
According to Ukrainian sources, after the Wagner group, Moscow is moving another group of mercenaries to the Donbass. Accordingly, fighters from the private military company Patriot were sighted near Wuhledar in the Donetsk region. This was announced by Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesman for the eastern group of the Ukrainian armed forces, according to the online portal Ukrajinska Pravda in a TV interview. The information cannot be independently verified.
"In particular, in the Stepne area on the Wuhledar front, we noticed that in addition to the Wagner group, the Patriot military company, associated with the current Russian Defense Minister Shoigu, also appeared," Cherevatyi said. "Obviously they pull all combat powers in order to achieve at least a few successes." Asked about rumors of a conflict between the two mercenary companies, Cherevatyi said that the Wagner group and the Patriot company were competitors. However, both would currently be deployed on different front sectors.
According to the US think tank Jamestown Foundation, the Patriot military company is closely linked to the Russian Defense Ministry and the GRU military intelligence service. Accordingly, mercenaries from the company have been active in Syria since spring 2018. Patriot is said to have applied to secure gold mines in the Central African Republic. In the end, however, the Wagner group was awarded the contract, according to the Polish think tank Warsaw Institute. According to the independent Russian television channel TV Rain, Patriot is said to be implicated in the murder of three Russian journalists in the African country.
According to the United States, the Wagner group is increasingly becoming a "rival power center" for the Russian military. Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin's influence has "widened" as the force's independence from the Russian Defense Ministry has "only increased" since the war began, White House communications director John Kirby said on Tuesday.
In recent months, Prigozhin has repeatedly blamed Russia's military leadership, and thus indirectly Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, for the defeats in Ukraine. Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin is dependent on the services of the troops during the war. The Wagner group played a key role in the Donbass offensive in the direction of Bakhmut. The mercenaries are also building a defensive position in the area, dubbed the "Wagner Line."