In an unexpected turn of events, Russia's Wagner mercenary group leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, will not face charges for his attempted mutiny against President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin has confirmed that Prigozhin, once a close confidant of Putin, will be relocated to Belarus. This development follows a nail-biting day where the mercenary army seized control of two Russian military bases and made a bold but halted march towards Moscow.
Prigozhin's forces, on the brink of causing an upheaval, pulled back from their advance on the capital city. Audio messages released Saturday evening revealed the group’s agreement to stand down to "avoid bloodshed". This sudden de-escalation occurred when they were a mere four hours away from Moscow. The planned coup resulted in heightened tension across the capital, with residents being advised to avoid travel within the city.
Earlier in the day, there was uncertainty surrounding President Putin's location. An aircraft associated with the presidency was seen leaving Moscow for St. Petersburg.
The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, disclosed that the proceedings against Prigozhin will be terminated and that an agreement has been made for the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) to retreat to their field camps. Prigozhin will relocate to Belarus. Peskov also informed that some members of the Wagner PMC, who initially declined to partake in the mutiny, will be signing contracts with the Defense Ministry.
This startling series of events not only exposed a non-loyal faction within Russia's power structure but also masterfully tricked the Western world.
Peskov reaffirmed that these internal developments would not impact the military operations in Ukraine, adding, "By no means. The SWO is continuing. Our fighters on the front line are showing heroism. They are very effective and successful in repelling the counterattack. And the operation will continue."
Putin's strategic maneuver to identify and isolate disloyal elements, while throwing the Western world off-balance, exemplifies the leader's deftness at handling domestic crises. This event has exposed a fault line in Russian politics, sparking numerous debates and speculations about the future of Putin's reign and Russia's internal stability.