The Wagner Rebellion: The View From Tehran
Iran officially approaches the Wagner Group's mutiny gingerly, while news outlets close to the government run wild with theories about a NATO coup.
The sudden and swift incursion of the Wagner Group, a private military contractor fighting under Russia’s own command in Ukraine, into Russian territory itself this past Friday caught even many of the most seasoned Russia experts by surprise. The buildup to this shocking mutiny was not as sudden however, having been telegraphed in the weeks and months leading up to it with greater and greater frequency and intensity. Yevgeny Prigozhin, one-time caterer for the Kremlin turned-mercenary chief, had raised his criticisms of Russia’s top military brass to full volume as the Battle for Bakhmut raged on and on. Minor advancements in a city roughly the size of Hartford, Connecticut were being accompanied by deaths of his men in the thousands, mostly convicts who had been sent to the front to serve under Prigozhin, himself a one-time convict.
Prigozhin had been afforded space to criticize Putin’s government that few had ever been afforded, regularly putting out videos where he, in one instance, yelled at the top of his lungs in front of a pile of dead bodies of Wagner fighters. Many assumed that his most recent threats to march on Russia’s military command centers, following an alleged attack on his forces by the Russian military itself, would just be more rhetoric. But indeed, Prigozhin finally kept his word, and without major engagement, Wagner’s forces took city after city riding up the highway from Rostov-on-Don, with one goal in mind: Moscow.
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