Geopolitical Insights

Crisis in Russia – Update

June 25, 2023
What has Happened:

  • As an update to our previous SITREP, the Wagner Group reversed course this afternoon and decided not to continue on to Moscow after President Lukashenko of Belarus mediated a deal between President Putin and Prigozhin.
  • Criminal charges against Prigozhin for mounting an armed rebellion will be dropped and it is reported that he will move to Belarus.
  • Wagner soldiers who took part in the mutiny were granted amnesty and those who did not take part were offered a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry.
  • Prigozhin and his forces got within 120 miles of Moscow, but decided to pull back to avoid “shedding Russian blood” and instead returned to Ukraine.
  • Prigozhin had previously demanded that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu be removed following the alleged attack on Wagner Group personnel yesterday, but it is unclear if this was a condition in the deal to cease the march on Moscow.
  • At this point, it is also unclear how the last 24 hours will impact the Russian efforts in Ukraine, but Zelensky commented that these events had “exposed weakness in the Kremlin.”
  Why it Matters:

“It appears that the president of Belarus has negotiated a near-term resolution. While Wagner forces turned around, the political damage is done. Prigozhin, like most of Putin’s enemies, will become a target for elimination. It is still possible that they will send him back to Ukraine or to one of his other camps around the world. If he is smart, he would try to stay in Rostov to maintain leverage as it is the logistics/C2 hub for the fight in Ukraine. He can take the resources that he needs if he wants to rejoin the fight there. For Prigozhin to live a long life, he will have to redeem himself and win back trust. However, it could be corrosive if Prigozhin isn’t dealt with by Putin.” General Frank Kearney