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Wagner Group's March to Moscow: Mutiny in Putin's Private Army

Wagner Group a private military company of trained ex-soldiers based out of Russia launched a mutiny on June 24 2023 to expel Sergei Shoigu, the Russian Defence Minister from his post. The company of mercenaries claims they have seized control of the military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don

June 24, 2023

Wagner Group is a private military contractor that is not a part of the Russian government. This is a company where a team of trained soldiers and battle-hardened war veterans fight for the highest bidder in the war. Hence they are random guns for hire; even a civilian with enough money can hire them to meet their personal feud. There are many such companies that are operating in developed nations apart from Russia likes of which include the US, the UK, France, and China. They are corporate soldiers who provide services which range from logistics to the protection of public figures and at times fight wars in hostile regions of the Middle East, Africa Latin America and in this case Ukraine.

The head of the Wagner Group is Yevgeny Peigozhin who was a former convict and a prisoner in a Russian jail during the year 1981. This man was charged with the crime of robbery, he went out to become the current leader of this private army. The mercenaries under his leadership were able to take control of a prominent city in eastern Ukraine called Bakhmut. Since the start of the war on 24th February 2022, the Russian city of Rostov-On-Don was the headquarter of the Russian army and the airforce. This is a city located on the banks of the lower region of the Don River and to the south of Moscow. The distance of the city from the borders of Ukraine is merely 100 km and serves as a mouth to the Sea of Azov. Prigozhin claimed that the military headquarters were seized “without a single shot being fired by his men.” Other military sites around the city were also seized by the mercenaries to cripple the army. Another key city in Russia, Voronezh was also occupied by the Wagner Group as they moved towards the north to lay the occupation of Moscow.

The reason for this mutiny started after the forces fighting for the Russian government opened fire on the base Wagner Group had in Ukraine. As Pirgozhin says this is an “act of revenge” for the attacks carried out by the Russian army.

Russian President Vladimir Putin being the dictator he is came on national TV to say that this rebellion within the Fatherland is a “stab in the back” to Russia. A state of counterterrorism emergency has been declared in Moscow and the corporate soldiers have been labelled as treasons. He also went on to say that any Russian who will support these rebels will be punished severely by the Government. At this moment the biggest internal conflict that Russia has seen since the start of the war is this armed rebellion waged by the Wagner Group.

Recent updates

● The mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyanin has ordered every Russian citizen to stay indoors and keep their doors shut. This is a clear sign that the private military company which is officially not a part of the Russian government is free to commit any war crime whatsoever without having the fear of facing international backlash. Therefore, extreme safety precautions must be taken in the order of the day for the citizens of Moscow.

● As the situation worsens Putin in his 5-minute speech on national TV said: “Everyone who deliberately embarked on the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed rebellion, chose the path of blackmail and terrorist methods — they will suffer inevitable punishment,”

● Due to the fear of the Wagner Group’s march towards Moscow flights tickets out of Russia or Moscow are being sold out like hotcakes.

● Vital highways that lead to the capital city have armed men ready to block the mercenaries from inching any closer. Now only time can tell if this moment of anxiety will tone down or get worse even more.

How will this impact the war with Ukraine?

As per the interview conducted by Ellen Nakashima, the national security reporter for The Washington Post, a senior official from NATO said that this volatile situation is worth the assessment. He said, “We are not underestimating the situation but we are not panicking either.” This may be true for the ones who are not living in Moscow but the situation is far worse than this for the citizens who are under imminent danger. Exactly what may happen to Russia in the battle is not clear at the moment for one reason. The Wagner Group mostly have some trucks for their logistics, some 25,000 men as claimed by their leader Prizhnov and a few military vehicles including a dozen airships. This is not enough to take down the Russian force as they have the entire might of their airforce to crush the troops if needed.

Likewise, the NATO official being interviewed by Ellen Nakashima said. “If there’s turmoil and [Wagner’s] occupying Rostov, there may be some impact, but it’s hard to say whether it will materialize, how long it will last or whether it’ll be solved quickly.” Therefore at the given moment Russians living in Moscow can be safe and sound if the government actually intends to protect them. There might be half a day of a setback in the actual war if things really turn violent as it can be assessed by the conversation between Ellen Nakashima and the official from NATO.

What will increase anxiety for the US-led NATO?

As per the interview conducted by Ellen Nakashima, the national security reporter for The Washington Post on a senior official from NATO, one thing that was said is “It cuts both ways. We don’t want a Russia that is too strong. But we don’t want a Russia that is too weak. We don’t want to have a failed state — they’re still a nuclear power.” This shows that if the worst happens and Moscow is under the control of Yevgeny Prigozhin then the world can expect the worst. Russia is a state with more nuclear weapons than the United States of America. This is an open secret for the world that everybody says but does not believe in it. Now if a person takes over the country by a coup as happened during the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 then every NATO member and the US itself will be at risk of a nuclear war. The violence against Ukraine will not have a limit and chances are that Kyiv will be nothing but a large mass of land covered in dust, rubble, blood and radiation.

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