Foreign media reported that Russian war reporters recently released information on social media that former Russian Deputy Defence Minister General Mikhail Mizintsev has joined the private military group Wagner as deputy commander.
In two videos posted by war correspondent Alexander Simonov on the social platform Telegram, Mizyntsev, dressed in Wagner combat gear, tours Russian positions in the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, as Reuters reported on May 5.
On April 29 — the day after reports surfaced that Mizyntsev had been fired by the Russian Defence Ministry — Wagner chief Prigozin reportedly said in a press statement that he had offered to hire the general.
According to the “Moscow Times” report, on April 30, the Russian Ministry of Defence issued a statement on the social media platform Telegram, stating that it had appointed General Alexei Kuzmenkov as the deputy defence minister in charge of the Russian military’s logistics affairs. Mizintsev, who succeeded him, had just completed his seven-month term.
Mizyntsev, who orchestrated the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol at the start of Russia’s special military operation last year, was appointed deputy defence minister for logistics and supplies last September. The EU imposed sanctions on Mizyntsev last June, calling him the “butcher of Mariupol”.
When the news of Mizyntsev’s joining Wagner came out, it coincided with Prigozin’s “severe criticism” of the Russian Ministry of Defence, saying that the Wagner Group lacked ammunition supplies and would withdraw from Bakhmut. Mizintsev “was not the first, and certainly not the last, general to be at odds with bureaucracy and adulation,” wrote Grayzone, a closely watched Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner.
In Prigozin’s video, he also praised Mizyntsev but did not confirm that he had been hired. In response to questions from Reuters, Prigozin said, “In wartime, these things are kept secret.”