National & Minnesota Report

On Wednesday, the Wagner Group which is headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed the chef because he served Vladimir Putin, and in turn, bit the hand that feeds him and attacked the Russian Industrial Complex. Prior to Prigozhin’s change of allegiance, he continued his excoriation of the incompetence of Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu. He also claimed the Kremlin had bombed his troops, stated the pretenses for the Ukrainian war were unjustified, and called out the war’s prosecutors Russian bureaucrats as corrupt through the hoarding of arms and extortion, hence, providing justification for his rebellion.

Wagner is a private military company (PMC) an assembly of mercenaries and released prisoners. They appear to be a government-sanctioned black ops unit. Their first military involvement occurred during the annexation of Crimea in 2014, additionally, the claims of Russian interference in the 2016 US elections are also attributed to this organization, along with Syria (2015), Sudan (2017), Central African Republic, Madagascar, Libya (2018), Venezuela, Mozambique (2019), and Mali (2021).

As Wagner began its campaign, they took over regional military command Rostov-on-Don overnight Friday. This is the operational headquarters for the Russian southern controlled area in Ukraine and includes the cities of Kherson, Donetsk, and Crimea. They commenced a march to Moscow only to end their efforts abruptly on Saturday.

The reports out of Russia have been spotty, Putin who is reported to have fled Moscow released a video statement pledging to punish everyone involved in the “armed rebellion.” (In Russian)

Since the inception of Putin’s War in Ukraine, Wagner has played a decisive role and accumulated significant losses across the region, mainly due to the inexperienced extricated prison forces and the use of these as shock troops or cannon fodder, specifically in the battle for Bakhmut.

News reports say Belarus’s president, Alexander Lukashenko, brokered an end of hostilities, but the whereabouts of both Prigozhin and Putin remain unclear.