Change to Moscow’s military top? The explosive details of the deal with Wagner
Karin Silvina Hiebaum – International Press
The Kremlin’s concessions to the Wagner Group are surprisingly generous – if they hold. Although the great bloodshed did not occur, Prigoschin’s mercenaries have inflicted losses on the Russian army and openly revolted. Will it really be so easy to move on to the agenda?
Castling is to be imminent in Russia’s Ministry of Defense – at the management level. This was reported by Russian state media. The changes therefore concern the current Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu – a long-time Putin friend – and also the Chief of Staff of the Army, Valeri Gerasimov, it was said.
Later, the Kremlin again denied having negotiated this with Prigoshin. Especially about Shoigu’s future, there is currently uncertainty. But one thing is certain: Moscow lets the insurgents get away lightly. For the time being.
Putin’s two years younger Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (r., 68) has long been a confidant of the president. Recently, rumors circulated that the relationship between the two would cool down.Contributor/Getty Images
The changes are part of the agreement with Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigoshin (62). The deal was able to stop the march on Moscow at literally the last second. The Belarusian press service speaks of «an absolutely generous and acceptable agreement.» Other points include the «security of the Wagner Group».
Complete amnesty after aborted mutiny
For example, the criminal prosecution of the Wagner fighters and their boss will be stopped, the Kremlin explained in the evening. Those mercenaries who did not participate in Prigoschin’s march on Moscow will not return to the Wagner unit, but will sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense. The Wagner boss himself is to relocate his whereabouts to Belarus.
In other words, the Kremlin issues a complete amnesty for fighters who have openly revolted and fought against the head of state. Although there was no coup, this was primarily because significant Russian military personnel did not want to participate in Prigoshin’s uprising. In retrospect, on the other hand, one must speak of an aborted mutiny.
Lukashenko negotiated with Prigochin for a day
The deal was mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. He had agreed with Putin on this on Saturday morning, as can be seen from the communication of the press service of the Republic of Belarus: «This morning, Russian President Vladimir Putin informed his Belarusian counterpart about the situation in southern Russia at the private military company Wagner,» the broadcast says. «The heads of state agreed on joint actions. As part of the preparation of the agreements, the President of Belarus held talks with the head of the Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigoschin.
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The relationship between Lukashenko (r.) and Putin (l.) has also gone through several highs and lows. Since the suppression of the protests in Belarus, both have moved noticeably together again.APA/AFP/Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin
The negotiations are said to have lasted the entire day. Finally, it was agreed that the incitement of a bloody massacre on the territory of Russia was inadmissible. Yevgeny Prigoshin accepted the proposal of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to stop the movements of armed troops of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and to take further steps to de-escalate tensions.»
Now «an absolutely generous and acceptable solution to the situation with security guarantees for the Wagner fighters is on the table.»
Military experts are stunned
However, the Wagner force is likely to have inflicted painful losses on Putin’s army. Several helicopters are said to have been shot down by the Wagner fighters: three Mi-8MTPR-1, and one Mi-8, Ka-52, Mi-35 and IL-18 each. Shortly before the arrival of the Wagner mercenaries, a bridge between the village of Anna and the city of Borisoglebsk in the Voronesch region was also blown up.
Some observers can hardly believe that Prigochin will actually come unscathed. For example, the US military expert Tyler Rogoway, editor-in-chief of «The War Zone» says: The Kremlin «made a deal with a man who has just taken over an entire military district with his private army, shot down aircraft, described the reasons for the war as unfounded and was regarded as a traitor.» This is an «amatry and revealing twist». Now we have to wait and see how the situation develops. But it is «very difficult to see how Prigoschin survives this.»