The Russian-Ukrainian war took an unexpected turn on Saturday after the head of the Wagner Group, which has played a prominent role in the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, called for a rebellion against Russia’s top military brass.
The mercenary outfit Wagner, which carried out much of the grunt work in the battle of Bakhmut, mutinied against high command and seized the city of Rostov in southwestern Russia, largely unopposed by local security forces. The mutiny is the fruition of a long-running feud between Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian military chiefs.
Any internal turmoil is a mortal threat to our statehood and to us as a nation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a televised speech on Saturday.
Although no one is certain what will happen next, all voices agree on one thing: this rebellion undermines Moscow’s war effort in Ukraine.
We should help because there is no worse crime than unleashing an aggressive war. If one criminal is ready to interfere with another – now’s not the time to make sour faces – we need to help, and then, if necessary, we will fight this one [Prigozhin], too. And yes, this is just the beginning.”
Supporters of the Russian government decried the mutiny and urged for unity.
“It’s a tough time, I didn’t think I’d live to see this,” said pro-Kremlin pundit and talk show host Vladimir Solovyov in a video address to his million-plus Telegram followers.
One way or another, this brings the end of both Putin (not in two years, as I wrote in the spring, but faster), and the war. Even if nothing changes at all, Prigozhin is captured or killed, and key Wagnerites are imprisoned, what has already happened is the collapse of the state on an epic scale, a historic episode.”