Putin prevails in Russia; Wagner militia’s mutiny ends as chief Prigozhin leaves for Belarus

The armed rebellion in Russia by the private militia Wagner Group ended within about 24 hours — between Friday night and Saturday night — as Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin gave up his goal of reaching Moscow, after taking over the Russian city of Rostov with his forces, and left instead for neighbouring Belarus.

Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin (above) tore into Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, whom he called a “scumbag”. Photo courtesy: Twitter/@MyKingDawit

Russian President Vladimir Putin today renewed his commitment to the “special military operation” against the Ukrainian regime. According to the news agency Reuters, he said, “I start and end my day with this.”

Yesterday, Putin had addressed the nation on television shortly after the Wagner Group, his Ukraine war ally, took over the Russian city of Rostov, a key point for Russian military logistics in its war against Ukraine. It was not a revolt against the Russian president directly, but Prigozhin tore into Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, whom he called a “scumbag”. He had also said that the tens of thousands of Wagner soldiers would die for Russia.

In his address, Putin called the mutiny a “stab in the back to our country and our people” and warned that those using “blackmail and terrorist methods, will face inescapable punishment”.

However, now it appears that Prigozhin has been allowed to leave quietly and go to Belarus, where Putin has a close ally in President Alexander Lukashenko. At present, the only Wagner-related problem for Russia seems to be the damage caused to the roads in and around the city of Rostov when the private army’s tanks and other military vehicles rolled into town.

Indeed, while the Wagner soldiers had remained in Rostov, many of them got hugs and food and drink from the city residents, though some residents also objected to their presence. Other than going after Shoigu, what the mutiny wanted to accomplish was never made very clear by Prigozhin.

Briefly, there had been online chatter that Putin was trying to flee Russia; that he had fled Russia; that the Wagner Group had the upper hand in clashes with the Russian military, and so on. None of that was backed by any evidence, though Prigozhin was photographed yesterday sitting at the Russian military headquarters in Rostov, apparently negotiating.

The New York Times has reported that the United States of America knew of the planned armed rebellion by Wagner. However, the US said nothing as it might have been accused by Putin “of orchestrating a coup”.