Civil war comes to Russia
Wagner’s military Chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has launched an assault on Russia as part of an effort to root out corrupt military leaders Prigozhin accuses of sabotaging and attacking the Russian mercenary force.
So far Wagner forces have seized control of the Southern Military District HQ in Rostov and claimed to have shot down two attacking Russian helicopters.
- Wagner has no artillery or air support. It will be easy for Russian military to wear them down if they try to advance.
- Many Russian assets committed to Ukraine so resistance is not as heavy as normal. If assets are pulled from the front, Ukraine can seize the opportunity to take back key terrain.
- Prigozhin claims 25,000 soldiers ready to fight. Wagner also has armored vehicles, tanks, heavy machine guns, and small arms.
- Unconfirmed reports of Russian National Guard working alongside Wagner forces. If elements of Russian military side with Wagner a major headache could quickly turn into a credible coup.
What Happens Next
- Tensions subside and Wagner forces back down. This is unlikely as they have already directly engaged Russian military. There’s very little chance of peaceful resolution.
- Putin removes the Defense Minister and Prigozhin backs down declaring mission accomplished. Also unlikely given the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, has successfully repelled the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- Wagner and Russian military continue to fight. Wagner gets whittled down by air strikes, artillery and other stand-off weapons. This will require Russia to launch attacks on its own cities. It won’t be pretty but it will eliminate the threat unless…
- More Russian military units defect and side with Wagner against Russian military leaders. There is a lot of unrest in Russia and Putin’s aggressive conscription policies have created a good deal of tension and bad blood. In this scenario, the resistance forces made up of Wagner and defectors become a serious threat to Russian leadership.