Wagner mercenaries briefly marched on Moscow last weekend after the group's leader claimed they were attacked by Russian missiles.
Details: On Friday, Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group fighting alongside Russian forces in Ukraine, claimed his troops were attacked by Russian missiles and said they were "going to figure out why chaos is happening in Russia."
Soon after, Russian intelligence accused Prigozhin of inciting an armed mutiny. A group of Wagner forces left the front lines and marched toward Moscow. But before they got there, Prigozhin struck a deal with the Kremlin in which he would leave Russia for neighboring Belarus, and Russia would drop the charges against him.
What is the Wagner Group? The Wagner group is a private military typically used by Russia to advance its interests across the globe, from Syria to Mali. Led by Prigozhin, who formerly worked as Russian President Vladimir Putin's caterer, the group has fought in some of the bloodiest battles in the Ukraine War.
The mutiny was unprecedented, but isn't the first instance of division between Wagner and Russian leadership. Prigozhin previously threatened to withdraw Wagner forces Bakhmut unless Russian leadership agreed to supply the group with additional ammunition.
What's Next? Reports indicate at least one Russian general, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, was aware of the mutiny beforehand. Additionally, Putin is now moving to integrate the remaining Wagner fighters into the Russian military. There is speculation that this integration was in the works prior to the mutiny and potentially motivated Prigozhin.
How the Media Covered It: There is not a strong political divide in coverage, but there is also not yet a clear consensus on the motivations and implications of the short-lived mutiny. Across the spectrum, there is agreement that the incident is not good for Putin, and could potentially benefit Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive.
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"Stalin greatly valued such competition; even at the very end in 1945, he made Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Konev race one another to reach the centre of Berlin with their separate armies. But Putin is no Stalin. He is still, after everything, the bureaucrat he has always been."
"Most commentators spent the weekend explaining how the whole exercise demonstrated the weakness of Vladimir Putin and his state. This was understandable. After all, Putin was negotiating with a man whom he had called a terrorist hours earlier. But most speculated that the result of the deal would be major changes in the Ministry of Defense, congenial to Prigozhin."
Snippets from the Center
"Although the deal between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wagner Group head Yevgeny Prigozhin succeeded in calling off the latter’s military insurrection, preventing a Russian civil war, and restoring order for now, one thing is certain: This drama is far from over."
"Yevgeny Prigozhin was previously considered one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest confidants. The Wagner Group has been instrumental in Russia's invasion of Ukraine, particularly in and around Bakhmut, not to mention in conflicts in Syria and across the African continent in recent years."
Snippets from the Left
"The war is in large part a contest of will, and Russia’s just wobbled. With continued support from the U.S. and other partners, Ukraine can last long enough, and impose enough costs, that Russia will, however reluctantly, back off."
"Wagner has carried out “a huge number of tasks in the interests of the Russian Federation” in African and Arab countries, Mr Prigozhin complained in a Telegram message on June 26th. The mercenary group has sent fighters to five African states, including the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali, where its operations will continue, insisted Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister."