Russia moves to regulate Wagner Group amid defence ministry infighting

Forbidden by Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Nikolai Pankov, has sparked tensions between the country’s defence officers and the Wagner Group, a personal navy organisation. Pankov introduced that “volunteer formations” can be required to sign contracts immediately with the Ministry of Defence, a move believed to focus on the Wagner Group. In response, the group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, declared that his forces would boycott the contracts.
The Wagner Group has performed a big position in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, supporting Russian forces. However, Prigozhin has been involved in a public dispute with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and navy chief Valery Gerasimov for months, accusing them of incompetence and deliberately undersupplying Wagner models in Ukraine.
In response to the defence ministry’s announcement, Prigozhin stated, “Wagner will not signal any contracts with Shoigu. Shoigu can’t properly manage military formation.” He maintained that his group was well integrated with the Russian army but argued that its effectiveness can be hindered by having to report to the defence minister.
While Pankov’s announcement didn’t explicitly point out Wagner or different paramilitary teams, Russian media has advised that the new contracts are an try and deliver Prigozhin and his forces under control. The defence ministry, however, claims that the move is supposed to “increase the effectiveness” of Russian units in Ukraine.
Tensions between the Wagner Group and the Russian military have escalated in recent weeks. Last week, the group kidnapped a senior frontline military commander, Lt Col Roman Venevitin, accusing him of opening fire on a Wagner vehicle near Bakhmut. Venevitin was later released, and in a video shared by Russian army bloggers, he accused the group of making “anarchy” on Russia’s frontlines by stealing arms and making an attempt to extort weapons from the defence ministry. Prigozhin dismissed the feedback as “absolutely total nonsense.”

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