Wagner’s mercenaries are in the spotlight after declaring they want to invade the Russian capital, Moscow. The group’s boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a close ally of President Vladimir Putin. Wagner’s forces now claim to have taken control of military facilities and the Rostov airfield, Russia. The Kremlin is on alert.
Responding to Prigozhin’s actions, Putin accused Wagner of treason and stabbed the Russian people in the back.Regardless, why did Wagner turn to betray Putin?
The Washington-based think tank, the Institute for the Study of War, said Wagner’s actions were directed against the Russian Defense Ministry.
“Prigozhin fully intended for Wagner to move against the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense and forcibly remove them from power,” the agency said, quoted by the Associated Press.
They then explained that Wagner’s troops were most likely fighting the command of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, but did not rule out the possibility of rebelling against Moscow.However, this institution also warned that an uprising from Prigozhin would not be accepted by Putin, even though the two were close.
“The violent overthrow of Putin loyalists such as [Defense Minister Sergei] Shoigu and [Armed Forces General Valery] Gerasimov will cause irreparable damage to Putin’s perceived stability of power,” it continued.
Russian political observer in Virginia, Michael Kofman, considered Prigozhin’s action as an act of desperation.”Although a lot depends on whether Prigozhin is alone, or if someone important joins him. I doubt it will end well for him or Wagner,” he said.
Prior to this uprising, Prigozhin accused Russian troops of attacking Wagner’s camp, killing many personnel. He then vowed revenge and planned to invade Moscow.
“They are cunningly deceiving us, trying to deprive us of our right to defend our homes and instead are hunting Wagner Troops,” Prigozhin said in a voice message posted on Telegram.
On that occasion, Prigozhin also said that Wagner was ready to give in to the Russian Ministry of Defense and surrender weapons.”But the embers of this bastard won’t stop [attacking Wagner],” he said again. Prigozhin considers that the crimes committed by the Russian military must be stopped.
Prigozhin has repeatedly accused Shoigu and Gerasimov of incompetence regarding the war in Ukraine.They were also accused of refusing to provide sufficient ammunition and supporting Wagner’s troops.
In one of the recordings, Prigozhin’s criticism of the Russian military escalates. He didn’t even support the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine.”The Ministry of Defense is trying to deceive the people and the president, and tell us the story of how crazy the aggression of the Ukrainian troops is,” Prigozhin said, as quoted by Al Jazeera.
He then said, “They plan to attack us with all of NATO. Special operations started for different reasons.”
Prigozhin then said the war in Ukraine was necessary only for Shoigu to be rewarded.
“War was needed so Shoigu could become a marshal, so he could get Russia’s second ‘Hero’ medal. War doesn’t need to demilitarize or denazify Ukraine,” he chirps.
Russia used the excuse of demilitarization and denazification when it invaded Ukraine.
Some observers previously suspected that Prigozhin had ambitions to get a seat in the Russian government.
Joana de Deus Pereira, senior research fellow at the British think tank Royal United Service Institute (RUSI), said Prigozhin considered himself to have an important profile in the Kremlin.
“He sees himself as the minister of defense or someone with a high profile in the Kremlin. At least looks and is respectable enough to be appreciated for what he did for the country,” Pereira said in February, as quoted by Newsweek.
Furthermore, Pereira said relations between Prigozhin and the Kremlin began to crumble as he presented himself as a military solution to the war as well as a political one.
“He [Prigozhin] wants to be recognized for his achievements, but if he says he has political aspirations, then he will be killed,” Pereira said.
In line with this, Vlad Mykhnenko, an expert on post-communist East-European transformation from the University of Oxford, said that Prigozhin seemed to need a bigger public role in Russia.
“He wasn’t satisfied with just being a private shadow contractor. He seemed to want something more, a more serious type of public work,” Mykhnenko said.
Over the past few months, Wagner has been fighting in Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, the hottest part of the invasion.
Then in early June, Prigozhin announced he was withdrawing troops from across Ukraine and handing over the front lines to the Russian Defense Ministry. At that time, he claimed Wagner had mastered what both parties had promised.
However, it is not clear which area is meant, including the contents of the Wagner agreement and Russia.
After withdrawing troops, Wagner increasingly criticized the Russian military, including the Defense Minister. He even said that Russian troops could knockout on the battlefield and praised Ukrainian troops.
Source : CNN