Russia newspaper, Kommersant has reported that the Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin who led aborted coup against Russia government between Friday evening and Saturday, is still under investigation by FSB after Kremlin said on Saturday it has dropped charges against the private military criminal group leader as one of the conditions that made Prigozhin to end the coup, withdrew his men from captured Rostov-on-Don and stopped his troops from advancing further to Moscow.
Video released by the Russia Defence Ministry showed the Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu airlifted into the warfront in Ukraine. Where he was seen taking report from the commander of the Western Military District, Colonel General Nikiforov, on the current situation.
Sergie Shoigu visit appeared to be the first public appearance after Yevgeny Prigozhin left Rostov-on-Don with super hero celebration by large numbers of Russians on Saturday night.
According to the Russia media, as at morning of 26 June, 2023, the criminal case against Prigozhin was not terminated.
“The criminal on the organization of an armed rebellion (Article 279 of Russian Criminal Code), the main person involved in which was the founder of the PMC “Wagner” Yevgeny Prigozhin, was not terminated and continues to be investigated by the investigator of the investigative department of the FSB of Russia”, Kommersant reported.
Prigozhin led mutiny is considered to be the first armed insurrection in Russia for the past 30 years. It is believed that the less than 24 hours coup has shaken the foundations of the ruling system led by President Vladimir Putin over.
Just less than 200 kilometres to Moscow on Saturday afternoon, Wagner troops were asked to return and discontinue the coup after a deal was brokered by Belarusian leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko, under which, Wagner forces were promised to be stand down, and be either pardoned or absorbed into the regular Russian army, while criminal charges against Prigozhin was announced by Kremlin to have been dropped with Kremlin also asking the Wagner boss himself to go into exile in Belarus.
It would be recalled that tension and rivalry between Wagner Group and the Russian defence authorities have grown in recent weeks. Prigozhin’s criticism of Russian military leaders, notably Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, as inept and corrupt has sharpened and became more vociferous.
The short-lived coup, according to US officials as reported by New York Times, Ukraine failed to take advantage of Prigozhin’s rebellion on the battlefield.
The US Officials said the Russian Federation “did not have any holes in the defense that could be exploited.”
“Prigozhin’s march did not result in any Russian units leaving their positions in southern or eastern Ukraine on Friday or Saturday to come to Moscow’s defense,” U.S. officials said.
“While there was a crisis in the Russian Federation, there was no lull in the NVO zone: before dawn on Saturday, Russian troops fired more than 50 missiles at Ukraine, the newspaper notes.
Anton Gerashchenko, Advisor to Ukraine Minister of Internal Affairs, highlighted some possible outcomes of the Friday-Saturday coup attempt in Russia:
The highlights reads in quotes:
1. In Wagner PMC, a split has reportedly started between those who felt used and those who remained loyal to Prigozhin after the failed rebellion.
2. Combat pilots reportedly quit Wagner PMC due to their disagreement with the way planes and helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces were destroyed yesterday.
3. A vertical of power has collapsed.
No one in Russia can feel safe anymore. Neither officials, nor oligarchs, nor FSB officers who used to think they were the rulers of life. Putin stopped holding a monopoly on violence in Russia yesterday. It was proven that factions with more weapons and determination decide everything.
4. Russia might be facing a bloody war, not a civil war, but a war of clans, armed groups and private armies: Chechens, Prigozhin’s supporters, armed mercenaries, who will separate from Prigozhin or other PMCs and be hired by local clans for protection from invading outsiders.
All large business and oligarchs will probably create (if they haven’t already) private armies, as Gazprom has already done to protect itself.
Conflicts and redistribution of property will be resolved by force. It will be the new 90s but far worse – Resembling the Mad Max style and genre of an anti-utopia action movie.
5. The Russian army, it seems, has de facto ceased to exist as a united structure. Soldiers and officers sitting in trenches in the massacre unleashed by Putin, probably finally realized yesterday the utter pointlessness of the war against Ukraine, against the background of the fact that a group of criminals in the rear can pass 600km in a day, sweeping away everything in their path and then be amnestied after killing pilots and civilians.
6. Ukraine is a few steps closer to fully restoring its territorial integrity, including Crimea.
7. What a pity that this circus did not end with the self-destruction of Putin’s regime and Prigozhin faction.
But I believe it will happen again with even larger scale!
Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken has described the Wagner short-lived mutiny as a sign of the weakness of the Russian government.
“We have witnessed a large number of cracks in the Russian facade,” he said.
He believes that Yevgeny Prigozhin issued a ” direct challenge to Putin’s power “, and ” Russia had to defend Moscow from mercenaries”.