In a significant development, the leader of the Russian mercenary group Wagner claims to have taken control of “all military installations” in Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city located in the southern part of the country. He alleged that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was responsible for an airstrike on Camp Wagner in Ukraine, which killed 2,000 soldiers. To retaliate, he is calling for an armed rebellion to overthrow the leader of the Russian army.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Yevgeny Prigozhin of armed mutiny as Wagner’s forces advance through Russian cities in what the mercenary chief has called a “march of justice.”
– NBS Television (@nbstv)
June 24, 2023
Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin?
Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian businessman who gained notoriety as the founder of the Wagner Group, a private military company (PMC) that has been involved in conflicts in Ukraine, Syria and Libya. He initially denied any association with the group, but eventually admitted to being its founder. Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because of his catering company’s contracts with the Kremlin, has been described as a mastermind of media and social media manipulation. He is wanted by the FBI for his alleged involvement in political and electoral interference by the Internet Research Agency during the 2016 US presidential election. He has also had a contentious relationship with the Russian Ministry of Defense, openly criticizing its leaders and accusing them of withholding resources from their troops in Ukraine. He now leads an armed rebellion against the Russian leadership.
What is the Wagner Group?
The Wagner Group, officially known as PMC Wagner, is known for its involvement in various conflicts and operations around the world. It is often referred to as the “shadow army” due to its secretive nature. Wagner Group mercenaries have been reported to operate in conflicts such as the Ukraine conflict, the Syrian Civil War, and the Central African Republic, among others. It is believed to have been created in 2010, but first appeared in 2014, when it provided support to pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. At the time, it only had more than 5,000 fighters and operated mainly in the Middle East and Africa. However, his personnel and influence grew considerably during the separatist conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region, which developed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Wagner quickly gained a notorious reputation for his brutal tactics, displaying his capabilities in several global theaters. The group participated in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside the Russian-backed government of President Bashar Assad. The group played an important role in the Russian-Ukrainian War, as it was extensively involved in the Russian conquest of the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
Yevgeny Prigozhin’s statement has drawn the ire of President Vladimir Putin, who denounced it as a “betrayal” and vowed to punish those responsible. Prigozhin insists that his goal is not a military coup but the search for justice.