According to Al Jazeera, the astonishing decision by Yevgeny Prigozhin, commander of the Russian mercenary army, The Wagner Group, to withdraw forces from the Ukraine frontline and advance them on Moscow was in retaliation to Kremlin moves to rein in his power.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, reported to be a convicted criminal who, upon release from prison, in the 1990s, reinvented himself as a chef and caterer who went on to cater events in the Kremlin, which earned him the nickname “Putin’s Chef.” Fast forward and Prigozhin emerges as, somehow, having established the 50,000 strong Wagner private army, a sort of “Russian foreign legion”, many of whom, like the legion, are former convicts offered clemency in return for enlisting.
With his Wagner Group, having established its credentials in helping defeat US attempts to topple Syria’s elected government and then in opposing Ukraine’s US-sponsored forces in the Donbass, its leader, the former Kremlin chef now appears to have “cooked his own goose.”
Making himself a rebellious irritant, as Patton was to Eisenhower and as MacArthur was to Truman, only this against Russia’s military hierarchy and, by extension, so also against President Putin himself, this was never going to end well for Yevgeny Prigozhin.
And so it has proved; In a deal brokered by Belarus, the rebellious Russian mercenary commander has, in return for being allowed to move to sanctuary in neighbouring Belarus, abruptly reversed the order to march on Moscow. Nor will the troops who joined his mutiny be prosecuted, a Kremlin spokesman has announced, and Wagner Group fighters who did not take part in the mutiny will be offered contracts by the defence ministry.
President Putin called the rebellion a “betrayal” and “treason”. But, in allowing Prigozhin and his forces to go free, the Kremlin said Putin’s “highest goal” was “to avoid bloodshed and internal confrontation with unpredictable results”.
But of course, and “predictably” there will be “results” and with the very survival of the Russian Federation on the line, they may not be pretty either.