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Wagnerian revolt. What do we know about the situation in Russia? OSW analysis, analyzed by expert Marek Menkiszak

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Although it is still not visible that any of the political or power actors in Russia supported Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagnerians, the mere admission to open rebellion is an unprecedented fact in the 23-year period of Vladimir Putin’s rule and shows signs of loosening and erosion in the system of power – he assesses in his analysis, the expert of the Center for Eastern Studies, Marek Menkiszak.

What do we know about the events in Russia:

– On Friday, the leader of the cooperating with the Russian troops in the invasion of Ukraine the mercenary Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin reported that troops of the regular Russian army attacked the mercenary campwhich resulted in numerous deaths. He announced that he intended to “restore justice” in the armed forces and called for no opposition to him.

READ MORE: Putin in a speech about Prigozhin, “betrayal” and “stab in the back”. “I will do everything to defend Russia” >>>

“Those who destroyed our boys, who destroyed the lives of many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished. I urge you not to resist. There are 25,000 of us and we are going to explain why there is chaos in the country. (…) This is not a coup d’état “.

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Wagnerians in RostovReuters

– Saturday morning the leader of the mercenaries announced that he was at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, waiting for the arrival of Defense Minister Segei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov. He threatened that otherwise the Wagnerians would “go to Moscow”. The Wagnerians also took control of military facilities in Voronezh, Reuters reported.

– The Center for Eastern Studies says that the Wagnerians entered the center of Rostov-on-Don without encountering visible resistance. “They blocked the main buildings of the law enforcement (command of the Southern Military District, Ministry of Internal Affairs, FSB) and civilian (administration of the Rostov region)” reads the OSW report.

– Governor of the Rostov region Vasily Golubev appealed on Saturday morning to the inhabitants of the region to remain calm and stay at homeh.

– The governor of the Voronezh region reported about military columns advancing along the route from Rostov to Moscow.

Wagnerian revolt. The situation in RussiaPAP/EPA/ARKADY BUDNITSKY

– “According to unconfirmed reports, there was a shooting near Voronezh. The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, announced that anti-terrorist measures were being carried out in the city to ensure the safety of residents” – OSW informs.

– The Center for Eastern Studies reports that “in the evening in the Rostov region and in Moscow, the mobilization of law enforcement structures was carried outwhich took selected state facilities under protection (armored transports were brought out onto the street, among others). The main access roads to Rostov-on-Don and access to some resources on the Internet were blocked.

Wagnerians in Rostov-on-DonReuters

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against Prigozhin, and the Federal Security Service (FSB) called on Wagner’s soldiers not to heed his calls and to detain him. A Kremlin spokesman said that President Putin was kept informed by the services about the situation.

– According to the independent website Meduza, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces and former commander of the Joint Group of Russian ForcesArmy General Sergei Surovikin issued an appeal to the militants of the Wanger group, urging them to “stop” and not take part in the rebellionannounced by Prigozhin. “Before it is too late, we must stop the columns and carry out the will of the president,” Surovikin said in a video, calling on the Wagnerians to “solve problems peacefully.”

“Unprecedented Events”

Marek Menkiszak from the Center for Eastern Studies prepared an analysis of recent events in Russia. In his opinion, “Prigozhin’s rebellion is the culmination of a conflict that lasted for many weeks between him and the Wagner Group under his command, and the leadership of the Russian Armed Forces, especially Defense Minister Shoigu and General Gerasimov, the chief of the General Staff.” “Its origins should be sought, on the one hand, in an attempt to remove the Wagnerians from independent conduct of operations in the Donbas sector of the front, and on the other, in Prigozhin’s ambitions to gain a greater political and business role after discounting the limited success of the Wagnerians in the form of capturing Bakhmut. Prigozhin’s increasingly harsh attacks on the leadership of the Army have so far been tolerated by the Kremlin, probably as a form of showing dissatisfaction with the lack of significant successes on the Ukrainian front.

Russian soldiers in RostovARKADY BUDNITSKY/EPA/PAP

As Menkiszak writes, it seems that the rebellion of the leader of the Wagnerians is “an act of desperation and an attempt at radical defense against neutralization and even physical liquidation by the army.” In the expert’s opinion, however, Prigozhin has little chance of success when it comes to forcing personnel changes in the military and civil authorities of Russia. At this point, he points to “significant disproportions of forces to the detriment of the Wagnerians and their dependence on the army in the sphere of armament and ammunition.”

“Therefore, it is likely that the rebellion will be crushed and Prigozhin himself imprisoned or killed. However, if there were prolonged armed clashes, or if none of the major military units resisted the Wagnerians apparently moving towards Moscow, the collapse could occur. morale of the Russian power structures and the accelerated process of decomposition of the Putin regime” – assesses Menkiszak.

The OSW analyst points out that “although it is still not visible that any of the political or power actors in Russia supported Prigozhin and the Wagnerians, the mere admission of open rebellion is unprecedented in the 23-year period of Putin’s rule and shows signs of disintegration and erosion. in the system of government.”

Wagnerian branch in Rostov-on-DonReuters

Potential Consequences of the Wagnerian Revolt

“If the Wagnerians are detained and broken up, it may even temporarily strengthen the system of power (in connection with the expected wave of repression against alleged conspirators and people suspected of disloyalty to the Kremlin). especially in the case of the successes of the Ukrainians at the front, especially since Prigozhin became an exponent of the views of a significant part of the ‘ultra-patriotic’ base of the Kremlin elite,’ the OSW expert points out in his commentary.

Wagnerian branch in Rostov-on-DonReuters

According to Menkiszak, “if the confrontation continues, or especially if the Wagnerians reach Moscow without resistance and the power camp disintegrates, even a palace coup in the Kremlin, escape of Putin and some of his associates may not be ruled out.” According to him, in such a scenario, “control could probably be taken over by a collective leadership composed of technocrats (e.g. Prime Minister Mishustin and Moscow’s mayor Sobyanin), which will probably negotiate with Prigozhin (his influence on power will increase significantly) on the principles of separation of power and influence.”

According to the expert, the events in Russia “will most likely weaken the morale of the Russian forces fighting in the south and east of Ukraine.” As he adds, “there may even be a break in the chain of command, disorganization and demoralization, resulting in an accelerated Ukrainian offensive.”

“In an optimistic scenario, it may lead to a quick recapture of even all of the Ukrainian territories previously occupied by Russia, including Crimea,” predicts Menkiszak.


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