Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner PMC, announced that he was stopping the “march of justice” and turning the columns back in the direction of the field camps.
A day after the beginning of the rebellion, which Vladimir Putin called “treason” and the FSB qualified as “armed mutiny,” Prigozhin said that he decided to curtail the uprising, when his fighters had less than 200 kilometers to Moscow.
“We didn’t shed a single drop of blood of our fighters. Now the moment has come when (blood) can be spilled. So realizing all the responsibility that Russian blood will be spilled on one side, we are turning our columns around and leaving. In the opposite direction to the field camps as planned”, Prigozhin said.
Negotiations with Prigozhin, by agreement with President Vladimir Putin, were conducted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, who is not recognized by the West, according to his press service. According to Minsk, the negotiations lasted all day, and as a result, Wagner’s fighters were offered “an absolutely advantageous and acceptable way to resolve the situation, with security guarantees”.
Neither Wagner nor Lukashenko’s press service reported exactly what the deal was or whether Prigozhin’s initial demands – the resignations of Defense Ministry and General Staff heads Shoigu and Gerasimov – had been met.
“Apparently, everything was resolved as part of a commercial deal. Wagner was simply bought off”, political analyst Abbas Gallyamov suggests. And although the uprising looked frightening, forcing an emergency meeting of Western leaders, after Prigozhin took Rostov without a fight, and then swiftly moved toward the capital, no political project came out of what was happening. However, the former chef remains a key player in Russian politics, Galliamov notes: “Everyone saw that the system turned out to be leaky and was unable to offer him any resistance”.
Having put the armed forces, the Federal Guard Service and the FSB on alert, destroyed roads and mined, according to local residents, bridges in the Voronezh and Moscow regions, the Russian authorities were helpless before the private army of the former St. Petersburg restaurateur, who himself estimated its number at 25,000 people.
Trying to stop Prigozhin, Defense Ministry troops have lost in less than a day plane Il-22, two Mi-8 electronic warfare helicopters, Mi-35 helicopter, Ka-52 attack helicopter Alligator, a combat vehicle Tiger, and a military KamAZ (according to Oryx calculations). The Wagner PMC was deprived of only one UAZ.
Possible problems due to the 62-year-old Prigozhin were discussed at meetings in the Kremlin, but Putin dismissed his conflict with the Defense Ministry until the last moment, resulting in the situation to the full crisis, sources familiar with the situation told The Moscow Times.
“The chief [Putin] in his policy tried to take a detached position from the conflicts going on until the last, and brought the situation to the point of absurdity”, a Cabinet official told The Moscow Times.
“Most in the Kremlin would throw up their hands, shake their heads and say: “Yes, that’s true. But it’s none of our business. Let others sort it out”, said another source close to the Kremlin.