The crisis that started after the rebellion of the private army ‘Wagner Group’ in Russia ended within 24 hours. Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner Group, announced that he had asked the fighters to withdraw to “avoid bloodshed”. Prigozhin himself has gone to Belarus.
According to media reports, only after the mediation of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, the clouds of crisis have subsided. Wagner Group is a private army which has been in controversies for the last several years regarding its military and intelligence operations. There have also been many allegations of human rights violations against this group. Currently, this group is fighting a war in Ukraine along with the Russian army. Know what happened in the last 24 hours? From the declaration of rebellion to the retreat.
1. There has been a long-standing conflict between Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close aide of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Russian Army. First, Prigozhin accused the Ministry of Defense of not delivering weapons to the Wagner Group in Ukraine. Then refused to sign the contract with the Defense Ministry. Most recently, on 23 June, Prigozhin shared several videos and audio. In these, he alleged that Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has ordered a rocket attack on the Wagner Group in Ukraine, where his soldiers are fighting for the Russian army. Prigozhin said that he would take revenge on Shoigu and that the Russian army should not interfere in it. After this, Prigozhin came from Ukraine with his fighters and entered the border of Russia. Then on 24 June, it claimed that it had captured the headquarters of the Russian army in the southern city of Rostov. After this, he announced to move towards Moscow.
2. All this internal discord in Russia came openly in front of the world. Vladimir Putin addressed the country given the state of emergency. Putin said that he had backstabbed us and he would be punished for it. We are fighting for the safety of our people. We will give a befitting reply to the armed rebels. Although he did not name ‘Wagner Group’ and Yevgeny Prigozhin in his address. Before this, in the videos of Prigojan that also surfaced, he did not take Putin’s name. He was speaking directly against the Defense Ministry.
3. The situation had become so bad that a counter-terrorism state of emergency was declared in Moscow. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee had said that an anti-terror operation has been launched given the possibility of terrorist incidents in and around Moscow. A similar emergency has been declared in Voronezh City adjacent to Ukraine. After such an order, the control of the officers increases and they can arrest any citizen. The Russian government blocked the M4 highway between Rostov and Moscow. At the same time, raids started in the office of Wagner Group. Criminal cases were opened against Prigozhin.
4. Amidst all this, the era of agreements has also started. According to Russia’s official news agency TASS, Putin spoke on the phone with Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also said that he has spoken to Putin and is ready to help in a peaceful settlement with the rebels.
5. According to the report, after the mediation of Alexander Lukashenko, Yevgeny Prigozhin decided to withdraw. Prigozhin said that his fighters would go back to the camp. This means that in Ukraine they were fighting a war by building a base. However, he then also said that his fighters were standing only 200 kilometres away from Moscow. According to Prigozhin, he has decided to retreat to avoid bloodshed. Prigozhin did not say whether the Russian President has accepted the demand for the removal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. After his announcement, on the night of 24th June, the fighters of the Wagner Group started coming out from Rostov Army Headquarters.
6. Kremlin (official residence of the Russian President) spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Prigozhin will go to Belarus under the “Lukashenko deal”. Along with this, it was also told that no action will be taken against any of the fighters of the Prigozhin or the Wegner group. The spokesman described the day as ‘sad’ and said that with Putin’s approval, Lukashenko had offered to mediate. Because the Russian President has known Prigozhin for nearly 20 years. Although the Kremlin did not tell what was the deal between Lukashenko and Prigozhin.
The Wagner Group is also involved in the fight against Ukraine. In May this year, the same Wegner Group claimed victory in Bakhmut, Ukraine. In May itself, Wagner accused the Russian army of not providing enough weapons. Prigozhin held the Russian Defense Ministry responsible for this situation. Since then, the rift between the Wagner Group and the Russian Army had increased. Recently, Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a directive for ‘volunteer groups’ fighting in Ukraine. According to this, the fighters involved in the Volunteer Forces will have to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry. But Prigozhin flatly refused to sign the contract.