What the Russian Wagner Group uprising may signify for the conflict in Ukraine

ANALYSIS: The Wagner Group’s commander, Yevgeny Prigozhin, declared war on Russia after alleging that the Russian army targeted his soldiers on purpose. Justice was sought for by Prigozhin, and this resulted in an armed uprising.

The Wagner Group apparently had control of important military installations in Rostov-on-Don, the administrative center of Russia’s southern military sector, when Prigozhin reportedly caved following talks with the president of Belarus. According to reports, Prighozin and his soldiers are now escaping to Belarus in order to escape consequences.

The Wagner Group and the Russian military have long engaged in open confrontations. Since the commencement of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the two sides have engaged in a number of hostile activities and slanderous remarks.

The deployment of the Russian army and the Wagner Group in Ukraine, as well as the political framework that supports their acts, are substantially to blame for the attempted rebellion.

ensuring believable denial
As soon as the conflict in Ukraine began, the connections between the Wagner Group and the Russian army dissolved. The Wagner Group promoted unofficially Russian governmental objectives before the war.

The Wagner Group gave the Russian government plausible deniability in situations where it had a stake but wished to restrict its direct engagement, such as in Sudan and Syria.
For instance, in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea with the aid of the Wagner Group. By using the Wagner Group in 2014, Russia was able to disavow its participation in the conflict in eastern Ukraine’s Donbas area. In other words, the domains of the Wagner Group and the Russian military supported one other’s goals.

The Russia-Ukraine War changed how the two groups interacted. In Ukraine, the Russian army anticipated a quick military triumph. Instead, it experienced difficulties nearly as soon as the fighting began. Due to these significant failures, Russia was compelled to send the Wagner Group to assist in its operations.
Russia’s assistance in Ukraine

Russian military operations in Ukraine were stabilized by the Wagner Group’s deployment.

In contrast to the majority of the Russian army in 2022, the Wagner Group was a well-trained force. In reality, men from the Wagner Group were in charge of several of Russia’s early victories, including the Battle of Sievierodonetsk.

However, these surgeries weren’t free. The Wagner Group couldn’t continue using its conventional strategies because of the considerable losses it sustained. To bolster its dwindling troops, the Wagner Group instead started a massive recruiting drive that included prisons in Russia.

The distinction between the Wagner Group and the Russian army became hazy as a result. While the two groups used to have separate areas of influence, they now function more like conventional forces.
While driven by necessity in the instance of the Russian army and the Wagner Group, overlapping areas of influence are not unusual for Russia.

In actuality, they are a part of the Russian political system, and Vladimir Putin is to blame.

Putin’s impact
In the end, only the Russian president has the authority to settle conflicts amongst his subordinates. This not only restricts Putin’s subordinates’ capacity to establish rival power bases but also highlights the significance of Putin to the political system.

When the objective is for Putin to keep his influence and authority, this feature of the Russian political system is quite powerful. However, overlapping tasks may quickly turn into a disadvantage in situations when there is an impending conflict or actual war.
It became obvious that Putin’s subordinates had not given him a complete and accurate picture of the capabilities of either the Russian or Ukrainian armed forces before to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

That means that cooperation between opposing sides during the actual conflict—in this instance, the Russian army and paramilitary forces—has been minimal at best. The Wagner Group and the Russian army have already seen open warfare as a result of these tensions, which is the worst-case scenario.

Although this storm seems to have subsided for Putin for the time being, the Wagner Group is only the most visible illustration of the simmering unrest among paramilitary groups against Russia.

Putin has a way out?
Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen nation and commander of a 12,000-strong paramilitary force, has previously spoken of friction between his troops and the Russian army.
It’s significant to note that while Putin seemed to criticize the Wagner Group in his speech to the country as Prigozhin’s uprising was in progress, he omitted to identify its head. This absence was undoubtedly intentional since it gave Putin more alternatives depending on the outcome of Prigozhin’s uprising, whether it was successful or not.

It’s still possible that the brief uprising may mark a turning point in the war in Ukraine, but it’s unclear how.

The uprising may have given Putin a means to put a stop to the battle and maintain his face if it had continued longer. Putin understood he couldn’t afford to lose in Ukraine from the onset of the war. If he could pin the loss on one or more scapegoats, such as the Wagner Group troops or other paramilitary organizations that are still upset about Russia, it may still result in a change in the balance of power under Putin. Although he may be in one of his most precarious situations as president since winning the 2000 election, he won’t give up power easy.

Putin will investigate all options for reestablishing his power over Russia in order to preserve his control, which will have a direct impact on the conflict in Ukraine.