“It must be admitted that the question of cooperation is on the table. Wagner’s troops used large equipment in their convoys. Russian army“, emphasizes Gustav Gressel, military expert of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).
“This convoy passed through Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh, important garrison towns. It is very strange that no one opposing the Wagner divisions was found there,” the expert says.
What did General Surovikhin know?
Experts are skeptical of the suspicions expressed against Surovik in The New York Times (NYT) on June 27. “Surovikin is currently the commander of the air forces, and they are the only ones to face Wagner’s forces Attacking them from the sky.
“It really doesn’t fit the image of a traitor,” says Gustav Kressel. And he says it’s not enough to suspect that General “Armageddon” Churovikin did not have a good impression of Gerasimov and was pushed by them. As the Kremlin calls the war against Ukraine, Putin would abandon the so-called “special operation” post. Surovikhin frequently clashed with Putin, particularly over the withdrawal from Kherson, which the head of state rejected.
British pundit Mark Galliotti notes that Surovikin was the first to publicly appeal on Twitter, as did many observers. Prigogine And his forces stop the uprising. “Contrary to previously expressed suspicions, he clearly declared his loyalty to the Kremlin,” Galiotti says. In his opinion, this will help Surovikin “clean up his reputation” and make him again a candidate for the post of head of “special operations” or head of the general staff after Gerasimo. “I emphasize that this is only speculation, but the suspicion of shared responsibility in Prigozhin’s ‘betrayal’ could be, in Putin’s words, a clever move to prevent Churovikhin from returning,” Galiotti said. Strengthening its position is “bad news for Ukraine,” the expert says.
Poor organization or frustration?
As the uprising unfolded, there was much to be said against someone in the military leadership, and against Surovikhin’s personal involvement in it. Tatiana Stanovaya, senior fellow Carnegie Russia Eurasia Center From Berlin, he thinks so. He believes Prigogine wanted to force Putin to pay attention to Wagner’s troops and protect them. Stanovaya did not rule out the possibility that Surovikin knew about the plans. “But at the right time, he clearly sided with the government,” the expert told Telegram.
Stanovaya, who founded his own analytical firm “R.Politik”, recalled that it had long been known that the military leadership was split: between Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov, one hand, and Churovikhin, the other. For her, the power struggle is less about how to fight in Ukraine and how to engage with private forces.
“Purge” in the Russian Army
It is also unclear whether Surovikhin’s proximity to the Wagner Group will have a negative impact on its future fate. The “Dossier” Center, an initiative of Michael Khodorkovsky, announced in a June 28 NYT article that Surovikin had already become an honorary member of the mercenary group in 2017.
Meanwhile, pro-Kremlin war correspondents write that distrust is spreading among the Russian military. “I think that Prigozhin had sympathizers in the army. It would be more correct to call them disaffected with Shoigu and Putin. But if one wanted, could one turn the sympathizers into conspirators and use this for the purge?” asks political scientist Tatiana. Stanovaya. He thinks Defense Minister Shoigu in particular wants to use the opportunity to “refine” to consolidate his positions. “Strangely enough, I have a strong suspicion that Shoigu is the main beneficiary of this whole story. Putin, by removing Prigozhin, has received a strong vaccine against private forces, like a plague. Now he can deal with his own army. “, Stanova says.
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