Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner Group, calls off his one-day mutiny against Russian military leadership. Prigozhin’s insurrection ended after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko stepped in and brokered a peace deal, acting as a mediator between Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Saturday, Wagner troops left their camps in Ukraine and entered Russian territory, seizing the southern city of Rostov-on-Don —the location of the Russian southern region military headquarters— in an attempt to lead an armed rebellion to oust Russia’s defense minister. AP News reports, “Under the deal announced by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Prigozhin will go to neighboring Belarus and charges of mounting an armed rebellion will be dropped. The government said it also would not prosecute fighters who took part, while those who did not join in were to be offered contracts by the Defense Ministry.” Peskov stated that Lukashenko offered to negotiate with Putin as the Belarusian leader had personally known Prigozhin for about 20 years.
Prigozhin called for and led an armed rebellion against Russian military leadership after he claimed that they were responsible for intentionally killing Wagner soldiers. According to the mercenary leader, Russian General Valery Gerasimov, scrambled warplanes to strike Wagner convoys, while they were driving alongside civilian vehicles. Prigozhin also claimed that Gerasimov, in collaboration with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, ordered artillery fire on Wagner field camps in Ukraine on Friday, killing numerous Wagner troops.
After this declaration of rebellion, the Federal Security Services of Russia promptly issued an arrest warrant for the Wagner group leader and urged his troops to assist in his arrest or not participate in his mutiny. Putin addressed the nation about the insurrection, calling the rebellion “treason” and vowing to put an end to Prigozhin’s “mutiny”.
However, Prigozhin dismissed any notions that his mutiny was a military coup, clarifying his armed rebellion as a “march of justice”, according to ABC News. "’ They neglect the lives of soldiers, they forgot the word 'justice,' and we will return it,’ Prigozhin said in the video. ‘Therefore, those who destroyed our guys today, and tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers, will be punished.’"
Prigozhin had apparently faced little resistance on his way to Rostov, maneuvering tanks towards the city, and reportedly shooting down three Russian military helicopters. Once Prigozhin got to the city he captured the military headquarters there, a pivotal military installation as it was responsible for overseeing war operations in Ukraine.
However, after announcing a move towards Moscow, Prigozhin changed course once a deal was brokered, expressing a desire to avoid harming fellow Russians. “‘Understanding all the responsibility that Russian blood may be spilled by one of the sides, we have turned around our columns and are returning to the field camps, according to plan,’ Prigozhin said,” as reported by the Wall Street Journal.
Although Wagner Group’s radical action against Moscow conjured whispers of a Russian civil war, Lukashenko’s intervention as a mediator between Prigozhin and Putin concluded the conflict in a surprisingly peaceful resolution. However, Prigozhin’s rebellion had severe consequences for the Kremlin. As a result, Putin is looking weaker than ever and Russia’s military image has been tarnished even further, highlighting incompetence in the nation’s military command. Only time will tell how Wagner Group’s rebellion has affected Russia’s ability to continue carrying out a war against Ukraine.
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