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Aftermath of the Wagner Group armed insurrection: Outlook scenarios and key indicators for Russia and Belarus

By Aditya Pareek, Josh Beesley & Eleanor Wride

The Kremlin's tentative response, which was limited to targeting the group's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's businesses instead of imposing criminal liability charges and prosecuting him, may lead to challenges to Russian President Vladimir Putin's power in the short and medium term. The cascading effects of the armed insurrection are likely to be felt not only by Russia but by the regime in Belarus as well.

Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin launched an armed insurrection on 23 June into Russian territory. Prigozhin aborted the insurrection on 24 June following an agreement with the Kremlin brokered by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Prigozhin initially claimed in a 23 June statement that the insurrection was aimed at removing Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces Valery Gerasimov and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. Prigozhin also announced his intention to reach Moscow with Wagner troops.

However, in a 26 June statement Prigozhin claimed his intention was not to overthrow the government but to protest. According to several statements since 24 June, the Kremlin said Wagner Group personnel had three choices – quit the mercenary business and return to civilian life in Russia; sign a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and continue to serve Russia either in the war in Ukraine or abroad; or move to Belarus away from Russia's national jurisdiction. While the deal's terms, brokered by Lukashenko and confirmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, include the Federal Security Service (Federal'naya sluzhba bezopasnosti: FSB) dropping the criminal charges against Prigozhin and the insurrectionist Wagner Group troops, it required Prigozhin to leave Russia for Belarus

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