After Prigosin’s death: the future of the Wagner group is uncertain

Status: 08/30/2023 3:47 pm

Is the Wagner mercenary team on the brink of collapse after the death of their boss Prigozin? Observers in Russia think so – and apparently President Putin too. Because he is already looking for a replacement.

It was only two weeks ago that Evgeny Prigozhin made the report with a video showing him in a desert-like landscape. Boss Wagner appeared full of energy and gave the impression that his team was fully focused on operations in Africa again.

“We are working. The temperature is +50 degrees. Everything is the way we want it,” he said in it. “Wagner’s group conducts reconnaissance and search operations, making Russia even greater on all continents and Africa even more free.”

After Prigogine’s death, the question of the future of his empire and the future of his militia grew ever louder. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was unable or unwilling to answer them and took refuge in the argument that under Russian law there should not actually be a private army.

The Kremlin keeps a low profile

It was a group of fighters who did a great job in Ukraine. “Their heroism cannot be forgotten, that’s what the president said,” Peskov said. “As for the future, I can’t say anything now – I don’t know.”

Even the Kremlin still doesn’t know how the accident happened in the first place. There cannot be an international investigation, which must await the work of the Russian intelligence team, Peskov said. Several versions of the incident are being considered, “let’s put it this way, including intentional misconduct.”

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Influence and lucrative deals

For a long time, the Wagner group was a welcome tool for the Kremlin to implement its own interests abroad, so to speak, “under false flags.” In the war in Syria or on the African continent. In treaties with African autocrats and military rulers, the formula always applies: protection against participation in mineral resources. A profitable business for Prigozhin and the Kremlin was able to expand its influence in Africa.

After the failed Wagner uprising, the close bond between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prigozhin was severed. Some of the fighters went to Belarus, where according to ruler Alexander Lukashenko, they were to remain there for the time being to train the Belarusian army.

The future in Belarus?

“Wagner lived, Wagner lives and Wagner will live in Belarus, whether anyone likes it or not,” Lukashenko explained. “Prigozhin and I have already developed a system for how we will work.” Although he will probably have to take over the financing of the Wagner group. According to experts, the Kremlin is no longer willing to do so.

Duma deputy Viktor Sobolev said earlier in the week that the only option left for other fighters was to join other factions. “There are two options: either find yourself in civilian life, or become a contract soldier and work in organizations and units that are now being formed.”

Is Putin already looking for Wagner’s replacement?

In Russia, many observers believe that the end of the Wagner Group is now sealed. In a Novaya Gazeta Europe podcast, journalist Olga Romanova said: “Actually, it’s Wagner’s decision. They can wave flowers and teddy bears as much as they want in their memorial camps, but it’s a decision.” Additionally, Wagner’s legacy was divided even before Prigogine’s death. “We noticed how the private army Redut began to actively recruit.”

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Redut mercenaries can take Wagner’s place alongside other private military companies such as Convoy or Patriot. In a strong attack on them, Putin signed a decree late last week requiring all members of the paramilitary organizations to pledge loyalty and allegiance to Russia in the future and to strictly follow commanders’ orders. superiors.

Political scientist: Wagner generals ready to hunt

Russian political scientist Michael Nagy reports on his YouTube channel that important Wagner commanders in Africa were poached before Prigozhin’s death. “In fact, the Ministry of Defense and the private military company Redut were the main players who began to drive the Wagner Group out of Africa,” he said.

In this way they would have taken many high-ranking Wagner employees. “After these employees came up with a database of all the Wagner fighters, they called them and said, ‘Let Private Army send you to Africa. Let Wagner — come with us,'” Nagy said.

The political scientist thinks that the Wagner Group will no longer exist. The chances of someone taking control of Prigozhin’s former empire are slim. Incidentally, the name Wagner now has negative connotations – and people in authority are reluctant to associate themselves with problems.

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