The rivalry between the Defense Ministry and Wagner Group clearly risks posing a threat to Russia’s national security interests.
The fog of war makes it impossible to independently verify what Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin just claimed is happening around Artyomovsk, but it would be alarming if his most recent reports are accurate. Two of his latest posts on Telegram here and here warn that Wagner faces encirclement after the flanks started falling, the latter development of which he described as unfolding “according to the worst-case scenario” that he said he earlier tried averting.
About those efforts, he published a viral video last week where he was surrounded by a pile of Russian corpses that he blamed on the Defense Ministry (DM) after they allegedly cut off Wagner’s ammunition for political reasons that he heavily implied might also be treasonous. Despite deputy commander of the special operation General Sergey Surovikin reportedly being appointed to manage their ties, the alleged problem wasn’t resolved, which Prigozhin attributed to Chief of Army Staff General Valery Gerasimov.
The following three analyses cover the twists and turns of this saga thus far:
* “Will Putin Agree To Prigozhin’s Implied Plea For A Modern-Day Oprichnina?”
* “It Appears That Putin At Least Partially Agreed With Prigozhin’s Plea For Help”
* “Prigozhin Is Practically Forcing Putin To Choose Between Him & Gerasimov”
The DM-Wagner rivalry clearly risks posing a threat to Russia’s national security interests.
It’s already raised very serious questions among many at home about what might really be going on behind the scenes, which prompts plenty of speculation that sometimes veers towards the extreme. Either he’s lying and will thus likely be court martialed at the very least, or his accusations against the DM are true as well as his latest report about Wagner facing encirclement in Artyomovsk after the flanks started falling “according to the worst-case scenario”. Both possibilities are very bad for Russia.
The first suggests that Prigozhin is making a power play against the DM, perhaps because he himself has political plans after the conflict ends, while the second suggests that the DM’s alleged political games against Wagner are endangering the viability of Russia’s hard-earned gains on the ground. The situation is untenable and must therefore be resolved as soon as possible, but therein lies the dilemma for President Putin since there’s no perfect solution and it’s seemingly impossible to reach a compromise.