In the escalating conflict between the Russian military and the private military company (PMC) Wagner, Army General Sergei Surovikin has publicly appealed to the Wagner fighters to cease their operations and return to their bases.
Military correspondent Rudenko posted General Surovikin's appeal on his Telegram channel. In the message, Surovikin emphasized that escalating internal tensions could play into the hands of Russia's enemies. He warned that any deterioration in the country's internal political situation could be exploited by external forces, and such a development must be prevented.
"I appeal to the leadership, commanders and fighters. You and I have gone through a difficult, hard way, taken risks and won together. I urge you to stop," Surovikin said in his address. He further highlighted that it is crucial to comply with the will and order of the President of the Russian Federation and to resolve all conflicts peacefully under the leadership of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
Surovikin, who is currently the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air and Space Forces, reminded the PMC fighters of their shared history and common struggles. He appealed to their unity and urged them not to exacerbate the volatile situation.
The appeal comes on the heels of the intensifying conflict between the Russian defense establishment and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner PMC. Prigozhin had recently accused the Russian military of launching strikes against Wagner's units, a claim that was swiftly denied by the Defense Ministry. Prigozhin asserted, "Those who struck the rear camps of the private military company will be punished."
Defending his position, Prigozhin said, "This is not a military coup, this is a march of justice. Our actions do not interfere with the troops in any way."
Following Prigozhin's comments, the Investigative Directorate of the FSB opened a criminal case against him under Article 279 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation for the organization of an armed coup. If convicted, he could face a prison term of 12 to 20 years. This recent development underscores the deepening rift within Russia's military establishment, potentially destabilizing its current operations.