Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries, will relocate to Belarus as part of a settlement mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to put an end to a violent uprising that Prigozhin had organised against the Russian military hierarchy, the Kremlin announced on Saturday.
Lukashenko had offered to mediate, with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s approval, because he knew Prigozhin personally for about 20 years, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
In gratitude of their prior service to Russia, Peskov declared that the criminal prosecution against Prigozhin for an armed rebellion would be abandoned and that the Wagner Group warriors who took part in his “march for justice” would not be subject to any punishment.
Without participating, fighters would sign contracts with the Defence Ministry, which aims to control all autonomous volunteer units by July 1.
Peskov claimed that even though Putin had earlier threatened to punish individuals who took part in the mutiny, the deal had the “higher goal” of preventing conflict and bloodshed.
In order to convince Prigozhin to remove all of his soldiers, Peskov said that only promises of safety for Prigozhin — for which he claimed Putin had given his word — and for Prigozhin’s men had been made.
He referred to the day’s events as “tragic.”
There are no other conditions that I can disclose, Peskov stated.
Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, had previously been demanded to be turned over to Prigozhin.
When asked if the agreement would lead to personnel changes in the Russian Defence Ministry, Peskov responded:
According to the Russian Federation’s constitution, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief (Putin) has sole authority over these issues and is qualified to make decisions in them. As a result, it is improbable that these subjects were discussed during the aforementioned contacts.
Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Wagner Group
Russian entrepreneur and businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. On June 1, 1961, he was born in Leningrad, then known as Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the Soviet Union. Prigozhin is renowned for his involvement in a number of sectors, including media, catering, and military contracting.
Due to his affiliation with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, Prigozhin attracted considerable notice on a global scale. During the 2016 US presidential election, the IRA was charged with engaging in online influence operations and propagating false information. In February 2018, the US Department of Justice accused Prigozhin on accusations of conspiring to defraud the US, along with other people and organisations connected to the IRA.
In addition to his affiliation with the IRA, Prigozhin has worked with Concord Management and Consulting. The U.S. Department of Justice also charged Concord Management with interfering with the 2016 election.
Prigozhin is frequently referred to as Vladimir Putin’s close buddy. The media have called him “Putin’s chef” and claim that he has been involved in supplying food services to the Russian authorities, including the Kremlin.
Russian private military firm (PMC) The Wagner Group has recently drawn interest from around the world. The group has participated in numerous international military operations and conflicts and is thought to have deep ties to the Russian government.
2014 saw the start of The Wagner Group’s public visibility as the Ukraine crisis was going on. The organisation reportedly sent fighters to aid pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. The Wagner Group’s involvement in Ukraine brought to light how the Russian government uses private military contractors to accomplish its goals while maintaining plausible denial.
Since then, other wars and actions have been connected to the Wagner Group. It is said to have been active in Syria, aiding the government forces there in their conflict with opposition organisations. Additionally, there have been rumours that members of the Wagner Group had involvement in Sudan, the Central African Republic, Libya, and other nations.
The company hires and sends mercenaries to areas of conflict in a for-profit PMC model. Its combatants frequently have a background in the military and possess specialised knowledge and training. The organisation is well renowned for its participation in military operations, provision of military instruction, and security services.
There is persistent conjecture about the Wagner Group’s ties to the Russian government, specifically the GRU, despite the fact that its exact ownership and organisational structure are still unknown. Dmitry Utkin, the group’s founder, may have served in the GRU in the past, according to some sources. The Russian government maintains an official position of non-involvement and has neither confirmed nor denied its affiliation with the Wagner Group.
It’s vital to remember that the Wagner Group operates in a legal limbo because Russian law does not expressly forbid the use of private military contractors for combat activities. However, their actions prompt worries about responsibility, human rights abuses, and the possibility for conflict destabilisation.
Overall, the Wagner Group represents a contentious and enigmatic facet of Russian military activity, obfuscating the distinction between state and non-state actors in international conflicts.