In a surprising turn of events, the Kremlin has announced that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who commanded his troops to halt their march on Moscow, will be deported to Belarus and will not face any charges for the failed revolt against Vladimir Putin. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Kremlin, stated that the allegations of a coup against Prigozhin had been withdrawn and that there would be no change in military leadership within Russia despite the crisis. As part of the agreement, Prigozhin’s troops will not face charges, and those who did not participate in the rebellion will sign contracts with the Ministry of Defense to neutralize their combat force.
The decision to reach an agreement with Wagner was made to avoid bloodshed, internal conflict, and unpredictable consequences, as stated by Peskov. Prigozhin, after meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, announced via an audio message that the army would be returning to its field camps. He claimed that he ordered the retreat to prevent the shedding of Russian blood, even though his troops were only 120 kilometers away from Moscow.
The details of the agreement between Prigozhin and Lukashenko remain unclear, but Lukashenko’s office reported that Prigozhin agreed to halt the Wagner group’s advance and take steps to de-escalate tensions. The settlement likely includes security guarantees for Wagner forces. Following Prigozhin’s retreat, Wagner forces were observed leaving Rostov-on-Don, and some of them were reportedly still angry at Prigozhin’s decision.
Ukraine has been openly gloating over the turmoil in Russia, with Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, stating that Prigozhin humiliated Putin and the state, exposing a lack of monopoly on violence. Zelensky claimed that the attempted coup demonstrates that Putin will destroy himself and make Russia appear weak.
The situation in Russia has caused widespread uncertainty and confusion among the population. Moscow, which had been preparing for war, is now experiencing an eerie calm as restrictions are being relaxed in many Russian regions. The sudden turn of events and the withdrawal of the Wagner group have left many locals perplexed and uncertain about the future.
The United States has announced a delay in implementing new sanctions against Wagner in light of the ongoing situation in Russia. The US administration is concerned that imposing further sanctions could be seen as taking sides in the conflict, and it wants to avoid such appearances.
Overall, the failed revolt led by Prigozhin and the subsequent developments have caused significant disruption and uncertainty in Russia. The fate of Prigozhin and the Wagner group, as well as the potential consequences for Putin’s leadership, remain uncertain.