By: Sunny Liu
Over the weekend, a military group that had previously collaborated with Russia made a threat to attack their own country. However, both groups were able to agree to resume working together by the following day. Despite this resolution, Russia was shaken by the brief rebellion, which weakened President Vladimir Putin's position.
In February 2022, when Mr. Putin launched his attack on Ukraine, he initially relied on Russian soldiers. However, he was soon joined by a group of professional fighters who were hired by a company called the Wagner Group. This company employs many soldiers, numbering in the tens of thousands.
The leader of the Wagner Group is Yevgeny Prigozhin, who has a criminal history. In 1979, at the age of 18, he was caught stealing and received a suspended sentence of two and a half years in prison. He served his sentence working at a chemical plant in Veliky Novgorod. After his release, he joined a gang in 1980. Prigozhin had a close relationship with Putin and helped him with various tasks.
Some experts believe that Putin uses Wagner's soldiers for missions that he does not want to assign to Russian soldiers. Wagner's mercenaries have also fought in various locations outside of Ukraine on behalf of Russia.
As the war persists, there has been increased tension between Mr. Prigozhin and Russia's military, which is ultimately controlled by Mr. Putin. Russian military leaders do not favor a business magnate holding such significant power. Add a sentence here with a bit more analysis.
Mr. Prigozhin expressed his disapproval of Russia's military actions. A new law has been passed in May, which mandates that Wagner's soldiers must now join the Russian military.
On Friday, Mr. Prigozhin claimed that Russia’s military had attacked Wagner’s soldiers. In response, he called for a "march for justice" and sent 25,000 Wagner soldiers back to Russia, away from the fighting in Ukraine. These soldiers then took control of the city of Rostov-on-Don and its military bases.
On Saturday, Mr. Prigozhin demanded that Russia remove its top two military leaders immediately or face the consequences of Wagner’s forces marching on Moscow. In response, Mr. Putin publicly accused Wagner’s soldiers of committing high treason and rebellion and vowed to impose severe punishments on all involved parties.
Wagner's soldiers embarked on a long journey toward Moscow and faced several battles on their way. The Russian military attempted to thwart their progress by destroying essential infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Despite the obstacles, Wagner's troops managed to advance to 120 miles (200 kilometers) from Moscow.
Over the weekend, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko stated that an agreement had been made between the involved parties. As part of the agreement, Wagner's soldiers will return to Ukraine without facing any consequences, while those who did not rebel will have the option to join Russia's military. Additionally, Mr. Prigozhin agreed to relocate to Belarus.
The recent events have resulted in Mr. Prigozhin losing his power, but it has also made Mr. Putin appear weak. For almost 24 years, Mr. Putin has been the leader of Russia and was considered by many to be invincible. However, the recent rebellion has highlighted his struggle for control, his willingness to forgive those who attacked him, and his reliance on an outside leader to address his issues.