Putin says ‘the organisers of this rebellion will face justice’
Fears are high that Vladimir Putin will feel he has to press the nuclear button after being left with a “poorly trained” military now one of his top mercenary groups has abandoned the war in Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, boss of the Wagner Group, has fled to neighbouring Belarus along with his fighters after a 24-hour mutiny at the weekend.
Putin has dropped charges against Prigozhin and his forces after they marched on Moscow before turning around to avoid “bloodshed”.
But John Bryson, Professor of Enterprise and Economic Geography at The University of Birmingham, told The Daily Express US it may be all over for the infamous group, which could in turn spell trouble for Putin’s official military.
He said: “It must be noted the Wagner Group were more effective than Russia’s official military and Putin now will only be able to rely on a poorly resourced, trained and led military.
“All this benefits Ukraine,” the expert continued, before warning: “There are many dangers here and the most important one being that Putin might be tempted to apply actions of last resort – in other words, to use the nuclear option.”
The expert also suggested the Wagner Group leader’s agreement with Belarus’, which he has now fled to, “seems to be a survival strategy with Belarus providing an exit strategy that diffused a situation that could have ended in many more Russian’s dying”.
Wagner Group forces have been fighting alongside the Russian military in Ukraine, with, according to John Kirby, an estimated 50,000 fighters as of December 2022.
But the alliance fell to pieces over the weekend when the tension between Russia’s defence ministry and Wagner erupted on Friday.
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Prigozhin alleged Russian forces had attacked Wagner camps in eastern Ukraine, resulting in dozens of deaths.
Late Friday, Prigozhin alluded to launching a rebellion in a series of clips posted online, but he was vague in exactly what this would entail.
The infamous group has a history of offering its mercenary services, such as in the Central African Republic, where Wagner Group exchanges services for almost unlimited access to natural resources.
A CBS News investigation found the group may be smuggling billions of dollars worth of gold back to Russia via cargo flights.
It comes after Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko gave his forces the order to prepare for full combat.
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He has also placed the police on full alert. Speaking at a news conference about the Wagner Group mutiny, he said: “I gave all the orders to bring the army to full combat readiness.
“I won’t hide it, it was painful to watch the events taking place in southern Russia. I’m not the only one. Many of our citizens took [these events] to heart. Because the Fatherland is one.
“If Russia collapses, we will be left under the rubble, all of us will die.”
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