It was a weekend of high tension in Russia with the march of Wagner Brigade commander Yevgeny Prigozhin, who issued a challenge to President Vladimir Putin by penetrating Russian territory with his militia without encountering any resistance.
Until, on Saturday evening, the Wagner Brigade – a 25,000-strong mercenary militia in the pay of the Kremlin that has been fighting Moscow’s wars in the ‘hot’ zones of the planet for decades – announced that it was backing down ‘to avoid a Russian bloodbath’.
Russia seemed very close to civil war. Then, President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus entered into negotiations in agreement with Vladimir Putin. During which, the leader of Wagner would be given ‘guarantees’ in exchange for the withdrawal of his men and a halt to what had already been called the march on Moscow.
But what happens now in Russia? And where has Yevgeny Prigozhin gone?
Where did Yevgeny Prigozhin end up?
About a day after the retreat from Moscow, Yevgeny Prigozhin seems to have disappeared into thin air. The leader of the Wagner militia remains silent and is supposed to be in Belarus at the moment, together with his men.
There is no precise information, however, on his whereabouts. The latest images are linked to a video of Prigozhin leaving the military district headquarters in Rostov-on-Don. According to the agreement, the criminal charges against Prigozhin will be dropped.
Cnn reportedly asked its news service about ‘where he is now and whether he has accepted the conditions set by the Belarusian president’.
The answer would be:
‘All your questions have been forwarded to Prigozhin. Who sends his greetings and will communicate when he has the appropriate answers.
43 million Euros found in Prigozhin’s hotel
Meanwhile, it is reported that boxes containing banknotes worth 4 billion roubles, over 43 million euros, and gold bars were found in the courtyard of the Trezzini hotel in St Petersburg, where Prigozhin is believed to have an office.
The founder of the Wagner company, reports the Russian investigative portal ‘Fontanka’ in an audio message posted on Telegram, confirmed the finding. Thus explaining that it was ‘money intended for salary payments, because his private army has always used cash for all payments’.
What is happening now in Russia and what is changing for the war in Ukraine?
It is really difficult to say in such a complicated context how the picture regarding the war in Ukraine can change now. The chancelleries of all countries in the Western world and beyond are closely monitoring the situation in Moscow.
For US Secretary of State Antony Blinken ‘the crisis in Russia reveals real cracks in Vladimir Putin’s system of power. At the moment we have no news of any military leaders being ousted by Putin. We will have to wait the next few weeks to see what develops’.
“The uprising of the head of the Wagner group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has shown the divisions that exist in the Russian camp, the fragility of both its armed forces and its auxiliary forces.” Thus explains French President Emmanuel Macron – “The situation remains evolving, we remain vigilant.”
China in a statement by its foreign minister takes a stance:
‘These are Russia’s internal affairs. As a friendly neighbour and global strategic cooperation partner in the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity.
There are also those opinions like the one of Lord Richard Dannatt, former Chief of Staff of the British Army. Who speculates to Sky News that ‘The fact that Prigozhin has gone to Belarus is cause for concern. If he maintained an effective fighting force he could attack Ukraine from Minsk’.
In the evening phone call between Zelensky and Biden
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine reportedly spoke with US President Joe Biden about the crisis in Russia:
“I spoke with US President Biden. A positive and stimulating conversation. We discussed the hostilities and the ongoing processes in Russia. The world must put pressure on Russia until international order is restored,’ Zelensky wrote on Telegram.
It is important to further increase Ukraine’s capabilities to protect the skies. In this context, I thanked him for the support of the fighter jet coalition. We discussed further expansion of defence cooperation, with a focus on long-range weapons.