The head of the Wagner PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin has long been preparing for a serious confrontation with the leadership of the Russian army, but its specific goals remained unclear. This is reported by CNN, citing U.S. intelligence. Intelligence agencies knew in advance about the movement of mercenaries located in Ukraine, closer to the borders of Russia. Weapons and ammunition were also transported there.
Washington believes that Prigozhin’s statements about the lack of ammunition for operations in Ukraine were deliberate disinformation. At the same time, CNN sources point out that events developed very quickly, and it was difficult to determine how seriously Prigozhin intended to threaten the Russian army and where he might send his troops. U.S. high-ranking officials were stunned by the speed of the situation, forcing them to cancel planned international trips and call emergency meetings across the government.
The Washington Post’s sources note that Vladimir Putin also knew in advance that Prigozhin was going to do something. The newspaper quotes the source as saying that the Russian special services had been aware of this “definitely more than 24 hours in advance”. The newspaper’s sources cannot say why Putin, knowing this, did nothing.
The American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) notes that the rebellion could become the only way for Prigozhin to maintain the Wagner PMC as an independent force outside of the Russian Defense Ministry. However, experts believe that he overestimated his capabilities.
Researchers believe that the agreement reached through the mediation of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko is likely to lead to the elimination of the Wagner PMC as an independent player under the leadership of Prigozhin. Prigozhin may lose control over the mercenary army in exchange for the removal of criminal charges of sedition. It is still unclear what the fate of the mercenaries themselves will be.
Analysts also point to uncertainty about Vladimir Putin’s position regarding Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Gerasimov. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified that any military reshuffle is the exclusive prerogative of the president and was hardly discussed at yesterday’s talks. Experts also note that it is unclear whether the Wagner forces are ready to cooperate with the Russian Defense Ministry and whether the Russian military will be able to work together with the mercenaries in the future.