Vladimir Putin has ordered the merciless paramilitary organisation Wagner Group to scale down its operations on the front lines in Ukraine over fears it is becoming "too powerful".
The Wagner Group’s founder and head Yevgeny Prigozhin has reportedly stopped recruitment drives and will be pulling his troops out in the coming weeks, according to sources who spoke to The Mirror.
It is understood the 50,000-strong group of soldiers, many of whom were recruited from Russian prisons, will be replaced by regular Russian soldiers who will take up their position in the eastern part of Ukraine.
READ MORE: Russian Wagner Group fighter beaten to death with sledgehammer in horror execution clip
More than 300,000 troops are expected to flood the front lines of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The group’s demotion from the field was ordered after Russia’s president Vladimir Putin reportedly became increasingly worried about his own position.
While he is the leader of Russia, head of Wagner Yevgeny Prigozhin has increased his status and power in the region since Russia invaded last February.
Russia expert Bruce Jones told The Mirror that while the head of Wagner may have been close allies with Putin for “decades” before the invasion, there may not be as much love between them these days.
"This appears to be a parting of ways after Prigozhin had been openly critical, even abusive to senior military figures in the regular forces," he said.
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"It is believed that by implication his criticism of the conduct of the regular forces and their commanders is a slight against Putin, who now sees him as a potential rival."
Prigozhin is not the only major name in the Russian military who has had their wings clipped by Putin.
Despite seemingly being a Putin ally and supporter, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov is also being scrutinised by the Kremlin.
Prigozhin and Kadyrova, along with the recently demoted Russian General Sergey Surovikin, are all seen as suspected possible plotters against Putin.
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