Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, a former Russian deputy defense minister, has joined the Wagner Group private militia as a deputy commander, according to Russian pro-war social media networks on Thursday.
Mizintsev was seen visiting a training camp and seeing Russian fortifications in the east Ukrainian town of Bakhmut in two videos uploaded on Telegram by war journalist Alexander Simonov.
The footage coincided with the release of two video statements by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who furiously renewed long-standing accusations that the defense establishment was starving his forces of ammunition from jealousy of their success.
While Prigozhin has regularly accused the mainstream military including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of incompetence, he has singled out individual commanders for praise.
On April 29, Prigozhin’s press service said he had offered to take on Mizintsev, the day after his reported sacking by the Defense Ministry.
Mizintsev, who orchestrated the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the early months of the war last year, had only been made deputy defense minister in charge of logistics and supplies last September.
Grey Zone, a strongly followed Telegram channel affiliated with Wagner, wrote that Mizintsev had become “not the first and obviously not the last general who was out of place amid the bureaucracy and sycophancy”.
The European Union imposed sanctions on Mizintsev in June, calling him the “Butcher of Mariupol” for his role in the siege, which devastated the city. Prigozhin did not immediately reply to a request for comment.