Putin ally praises Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky as a ‘strong and confident leader’


A close ally of Vladimir Putin has praised Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky as a ‘strong and confident leader’ who must not be ‘underestimated’.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, dubbed Putin’s chef’ and the founder of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, also said Zelensky was ‘a nice man’ – in defiance of the standard Kremlin line. 

In a statement shared on social media by his catering firm, Mr Prigozhin said: ‘Although he is the president of a country hostile to Russia at the moment, Zelensky is a strong, confident, pragmatic and nice guy.’

And asked why he was heaping praise on a man that Moscow has largely criticised, belittled and attacked since he came to power in 2019, he added: ‘To become stronger, to win, you need to treat the opponent with respect. 

‘Don’t underestimate him. Always look for flaws in yourself, and see what’s good and important that can be learned from the experience of the enemy.’

His remarks are a stark contrast to the characterisation of Zelensky peddled by the Kremlin.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin his school lunch factory outside Saint Petersburg in September 2010

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin shows Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin his school lunch factory outside Saint Petersburg in September 2010

Prigozhin, dubbed Putin's chef' and the founder of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, also said Zelensky (pictured) was 'a nice man'

Prigozhin, dubbed Putin’s chef’ and the founder of the notorious Wagner mercenary group, also said Zelensky (pictured) was ‘a nice man’

His remarks are a stark contrast to the characterisation of Zelensky peddled by the Kremlin. Pictured: Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after his talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev on Monday

His remarks are a stark contrast to the characterisation of Zelensky peddled by the Kremlin. Pictured: Vladimir Putin speaks to the media after his talks with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Monday

When he launched the invasion in February, Putin called on Ukrainian soldiers to oust Zelensky from office, saying it would be easier to deal with generals than the ‘gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis’ currently in power. 

Russian state media outlets and social media pages linked to the Kremlin have also pushed baseless claims that Zelensky is a drug addict. 

In one interview, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said: ‘He says many things. It depends on what he drinks or what he smokes.’

His comments underline a rising public profile and growing confidence in speaking out on sensitive issues around the war in Ukraine in defiance of the Kremlin.

It comes as he has made a series of outspoken interventions in recent weeks, joining with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in ridiculing the performance of Russia’s generals in Ukraine.

Russian political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya said it was interesting that Prigozhin was voicing a view far removed from Putin’s – an opinion that others in the ruling elite might not dare to express. 

She added: ‘Prigozhin dared. He thinks he has a right and he thinks it wouldn’t anger Putin.’

Stanovaya said Prigozhin was not angling for a formal power role, saying: ‘I think that for him it’s more like a “business project” that he needs to “sell” to Putin to be closer tied to the Kremlin.

‘He would avoid any real official responsibility, it’s more comfortable to remain in the in-between space, between the state and non-official status.’

The remarks come after Mr Prigozhin last month confirmed for the first time that he founded the notorious Wagner Group.

Prigozhin filmed recruiting inmates in one of Russia's colonies last month. He has now confirmed for the first time that he founded the notorious mercenary group

Prigozhin filmed recruiting inmates in one of Russia’s colonies last month. He has now confirmed for the first time that he founded the notorious mercenary group

Prigozhin, whose other business provides catering services to the Kremlin, said he founded the mercenary unit during Russia’s first Ukraine invasion in 2014.

The group has since gained a reputation for doing the Russian military’s dirty work, leaving a trail of brutal violence, rapes and war crimes in its wake.

It is known to have operated on battlefields from Europe to the Middle East, South America and Africa.

‘I cleaned the old weapons myself, sorted out the bulletproof vests myself and found specialists who could help me with this,’ Prigozhin said in a statement.

‘From that moment, on May 1, 2014, a group of patriots was born, which later came to be called the Wagner Battalion. I am proud that I was able to defend their right to protect the interests of their country.’

Wagner largely recruits from the regular Russian military, often taking on those who have been thrown out of its ranks.

However, after suffering high casualties fighting in Ukraine, Prigozhin has begun recruiting from prisons in Russia.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

How Miles Teller Totally Broke Royal Protocol Meeting Prince William and Kate Middleton Mila Kunis Reveals Why She and Ashton Kutcher Don’t Close Bathroom Doors at Home With Kids Khloe Kardashian and Tristan Thompson Were Engaged for 9 Months Before Paternity Lawsuit Selena Gomez Speaks Out About Kindness After Hailey Bieber’s Tell All Interview Shane Warne’s child, Jackson, shares recordings of ‘harmful ladies despising’ powerhouse Andrew Tate: ‘I really do concur with a couple of the things he says’ Kate and William to greet Americans ‘sleeping on the streets’ amid US visit ‘He said “take your bra off”… I was 15’: Supermodel Kate Moss reveals in unflinching detail how she fled a photoshoot in tears after being targeted by fashion industry predator as a teenager How to get early access to the MultiVersus open beta – usnewspress Gunman kills 3 people in Indiana mall shooting, police say Top 10 sizzling sex secrets to Spice Up Your Sex Life Stellantis Announces Termination of Jeep Venture With China’s GAC Memphis police thwart potential mass shooting at arena: Officials 4 dead after argument between 2 groups leads to shooting at north Harris County apartment complex, sheriff says US soprano, offended by blackface, pulls out of Italy opera 10 Top Romantic Getaways in New Jersey Ricky Martin’s Attorney Says Allegations of a Sexual Relationship with His Nephew Are ‘Untrue’ 8 Best Semiconductor Stocks To Buy Amid a Global Chip Shortage : USA Le’Veon Bell Reflects on Lost Season With Steelers in Retirement Post Updates on Tiger Woods from Round 1 of The Open PETE ALONSOI’M DEALING W/ ‘PRETTY BAD PTSD’… Over March Car Crash