Wagner and Prigozhin Launch Rebellion

June 24, 2023

Well, things are getting interesting in Russia. Following on from my post about Yevgeny Prigozhin a week ago, it sounds like the pot has well and truly boiled over.

Now I need to point out right now that the situation is beyond confused, but long and short of it is that it seems the simmering tension between Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, and Shoigu, Commander of the Russian military, has reached it’s explosive climax.

Yesterday Prigozhin posted a video on his social media channels showing what he claimed was a attack on Wagner facilities, assumably where he was at, conducted by the Russian military.

In a statement he said:

“Today a missile strike was launched against us. Then helicopters. Then artillery. The command to destroy PMC Wagner was given by the Chief of General Staff after a meeting with Shoigu [the Commander of the Russian Military]”.

And as a result, he reacted about how you’d expect for a man who runs one of the most powerful private military’s on the planet.

Now the current situation is a complete mess, but having ordered the mobilization of his Wagner group AGAINST the Russian MOD, Prigozhin has, in his own words, marched into the Russian city of Rostov-on-the-Don. Continuing to post throughout the night Prigozhin stated that many army units allowed the…well, rebels I suppose…to pass unhindered into the city.

Indeed, he followed up with a post that aircraft had circled his men on their march but had refused to attack.

Prigozhin is very much portraying himself as a Russian patriot who is seeking to “restore justice” to Russia, and as a result is actively calling for Russian soldiers to join with him. However, he doesn’t seem to have been able to garner support for this move from other generals, with Surovkin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, issuing a public statement calling on Wagner to stand down.

 

Indeed, reports are now that Wagner forces have seized the HQ of the Russian Southern Military District I Rostov, indicating that they currently have a firm grip on the city.

Again, I reiterate that this situation is remarkably fluid and people are scrambling to figure out what is going on. However, the BBC Russian service has reported that FSB and National Guard units have been mobilized along the Moscow to Rostov highway with order to set up checkpoints and to open fire if “under threat”.

Traffic maps also indicate that the road north of Rostov has been closed.

Additionally, there are reports of Russian troops mobilizing in other cities, including armoured vehicles in Red Square itself .

So, what has caused this final break and why Rostov?

Rostov is the principal command centre for the Russian military’s operations in Ukraine. It is also their most vital logistics hub for the “special operation”. As a result, should it fall to Prigozhin, he will effectively cut off the Russian Army in Ukraine form both command and most of their supplies, which would be literally disastrous.

And as for Prigozhin’s actions, and the alleged attack on his men? Well, it could be that yesterday he posted a video calling out the lies behind Russia’s justification for the attack on Ukraine in the first place.

Perhaps this was the final straw for Shoigu.

Or it could be that in just over a week Wagner’s troops have to sign contracts making them part of the Ministry of Defence, something Prigozhin point blank refuses to allow, and so he has actually initiated the action seeking to eradicate his rivals. After all, late on a Friday night is a pretty good time to make a surprise move.

Whatever the reason, things are going to be exceedingly interesting for a few days.

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