JAKARTA - Wagner Group's chief mercenaries Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Sunday it would not sign any contracts with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, publicly rejecting the Ministry of Defense's efforts to bring its combat troops under the influence of the ministry, opting to coordinate with a senior Russian general.

The Ministry of Defense on Saturday said Defense Minister Shoigu had ordered all "voluntary detachments" to sign a contract with his ministry by the end of the month, a move that it said would increase the effectiveness of the Russian army.

Although the ministry did not mention Wagner in his public statement, Russian media reported that it was Shoigu's attempt to bring the mercenaries to their knees.

"Wagner will not sign any contracts with Shoigu," Prigozhin said in response to a request for comment on the matter, saying the order did not apply to Wagner.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group, has repeatedly attacked military official President Vladimir Putin for what he considers a betrayal for failing to fight in Ukraine properly.

Prigozhin said Wagner was fully subject to Russia's interests. However, his highly efficient command structure will be damaged by reporting to Shoigu.

"Shoigu cannot manage military formations well," Prigozhin said, adding that Wagner coordinated his actions in Ukraine with General Sergei Surovikin, nicknamed "General Armageddon" by Russian media.

Earlier, the Ministry of Defense said, in order to increase the effectiveness of the "voluntary detachment", all such units - or members - must sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense no later than July 1.

The statement did not name the Wagner Group, but routinely referred to Wagner as a "voluntary assault detachment".

"This will provide the necessary legal status for volunteer formations, creating an integrated approach to organizing the provision and fulfilling of their duties comprehensively," the ministry explained.

"These measures will improve the combat capabilities and effectiveness of the armed forces and their volunteer detachments," said Deputy Defense Minister Nikolai Pankov.

Prigozhin said the ministry might use a failure to comply with the order as a reason to lift Wagner's supply.

"What could have happened after this order was, they would not give us weapons and ammunition. We will find out, as they say," said Prigozhin.

"However, when the attack breaks, they will run and carry weapons and ammunition with a request for help."

Neither Shoigu nor Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov made public comments about the insults from Prigozhin, whose forces in May seized the city of Bakhmut in Ukraine after fighting that killed tens of thousands of people.

It is known that Russia, through the Ministry of Defense, has again made changes to the structure of the special military operations command in Ukraine, with the highest military general stepping in directly to lead the operation, in January.

Shoigu appointed General Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov on Wednesday to oversee a military campaign in Ukraine, in the latest reshuffle of Moscow's military leadership, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

In the new structure, Army Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov was appointed commander of the integrated force group. His deputy is Air Force Commander General Sergey Surovikin, Army Supreme Commander General Oleg Salyukov, and also Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Colonel General Alexey Kim, the ministry said.

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