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Ukraine War: Wagner’s fading thrust


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2 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

MOD doesn't pay as well as Wagner.

For many they don’t pay A lot of the time —they may have more prime opportunities just leaving the country to continue mercenary work for another organization, joining a local mafia, or legitimate business. A lot of them work are ideologically drive so I imagine a few would follow Prigo.

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3 hours ago, Maithanet said:

Wagner isn't going to be fighting Ukraine again.  That alone is a pretty big win for Ukraine, since that was 25k or so of Russia's best equipped troops.  In addition to the morale issues this only exacerbates for Russia, and the loss of 7 aircraft.

This is all going down the tubes for Russia.  It would take a significant reversal to hold on to any Ukrainian territory for another 18 months (Crimea possibly excepted).  Donald Trump is not riding in to save Putin here.

It may otherwise be a death sentence for Putin’s regime, but I could also see how losing 25K soldiers in an armed rebellion would be serviceable pretext for mass mobilization. 

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Wasn't Russian gas money largely funding wagner through "catering" contracts? Even after sanctions and price limits the Russian government has much much more revenue than wagner. They do have a range of shady business dealings but maintaining 25000 mercenaries probably costs around $5 million usd per day just in wages. I can't see how wagner can remain that size without Russian funding. 

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Precisely. Whether it's gas money or taxes doesn't really matter for the sake of the argument. But they were paid out of the Russian treasury.

Prigozhin apparently hasn't fucked around with the salaries/compensations the way the MOD does. 

Whether Wagnerites can find mercenary work elsewhere en masse is open for discussion. I doubt it. Apart from the fact, that this career path might mean goodbye Russia for good, it might not be that appealing, when you have a family to take care of. I still maintain, that the vast majority of Wagnerites will (re-)join the military and sign contracts there. Most of them have some background in Russian Law Enforcement or Military anyway. At least the qualified ones.

No idea what Putin wants to do with the meat from the prisons Wagner used to fill their ranks. Probably they'll be rebranded as some Russian Voluntary Core and otherwise be used as is. 

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Prigozhin is claiming his road trip to (near) Moscow is proof he could have taken Ukraine in a day.

Ignoring little details such as he faced barely no resistance, and wimped out anyway.

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7 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Let's wait and see. We don't know how many of them will be signing contracts with MoD. If they simply switch uniforms, from Wagner to regulars then nothing has changed fundamentally.

There are already several reports that very few Wagner members are signing up with the MoD (less than 10%).  They have some pretty compelling reasons not to:

1.  Wagner paid better than they MoD, and much more reliably (you don't have officers stealing all the wages from enlisted men like in the army). 

2. Wagner was better equipped and better led than the main Russian army.  This was a point of pride for Wagner troops, and often caused friction between Wagner and the Russian military.  They held themselves as separate and superior, and it is going to be really hard to just downgrade 

3. Wagner now has the scarlet letter of Traitor, and that applies to any troops coming from Wagner to integrate into the Russian army.  Hazing, bullying, even torture are widespread in the army, and those Wagner troops can expect the worst of it.  They are likely to be selected for any dangerous and unpleasant mission like mineclearing, running point on scout teams, etc, and that will likely continue until they are killed. 

In sum, it is EXTREMELY unappealing to join the Russian military from Wagner. 

Quote

If they join Prigozhin in Belarusk the questions remain, what will they be doing there and how will Prigozhin continue to pay them. Sustaining a standing army is expensive. Wagner in Belarusk would only made sense, if they used it as staging ground to fight in Ukraine there. With the nukes as a deterrent to stop Poland from slapping them down and Lukashenko being able to deny any Belarusk involvement.

It sounds like Wagner troops who go to Belarus will either be working as advisors for the Belarussian army, going to Africa, or providing additional muscle for Lukashenko's state security.  Can Prigozhin find enough work/money to keep paying his troops?  Will Belarus have the military power to provide Wagner with supplies?  That remains to be seen.  It would certainly be ironic if this ended with Prigozhin ousting Lukashenko. 

5 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

No idea what Putin wants to do with the meat from the prisons Wagner used to fill their ranks. Probably they'll be rebranded as some Russian Voluntary Core and otherwise be used as is. 

My understanding is that most of those men are already dead or wounded.  Most of the Wagner troops that remain were the actual professionals with good gear and good leadership. 

 

7 hours ago, Matrim Fox Cauthon said:

It may otherwise be a death sentence for Putin’s regime, but I could also see how losing 25K soldiers in an armed rebellion would be serviceable pretext for mass mobilization. 

I don't think Putin will rock the boat quite so quickly.  His regime looks shakier than it has at any point this century.  There is the impression that a single popular colonel/general could just march on the Kremlin with vague promises of reform and most of the military/civilian populace would cheer them along.  That's not good news for a dictator. 

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Updated 
June 27, 2023, 10:56 a.m. ET23 minutes ago
23 minutes ago
Russia-Ukraine War
Wagner Chief Arrives in Belarus, State Media Says
President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus said that Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, had arrived in the country, state media reported. The announcement ended days of speculation over Prigozhin’s whereabouts since he led a brief armed uprising in Russia.

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2023/06/27/world/russia-ukraine-news

June 27, 2023, 10:43 a.m. ET38 minutes ago
38 minutes ago
Valerie Hopkins

President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus said he has offered the Wagner group an “abandoned” military base in the country, but stressed that no camps were being built specially for the mercenary fighters, according to state media.

Valerie Hopkins
June 27, 2023, 10:43 a.m. ET38 minutes ago
38 minutes ago
Valerie Hopkins
Lukashenko also denied speculation that Wagner troops would be involved in guarding Russian tactical nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus, state media reported.


~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Russian authorities said that Wagner members would face no criminal charges for the mutiny and would hand over equipment, but the fate of the group’s thousands of fighters was unclear.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/27/world/europe/russia-prigozhin-wagner-charges.html

Quote

 

....  At the same time, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Wagner troops were preparing to hand over the group’s “heavy hardware” to the army, an apparent reference to military equipment. The ministry did not provide details. .....

.... But there was no immediate response from the Wagner group or from Mr. Prigozhin, who has not been seen publicly since Saturday. And there were few details on how much of Wagner’s equipment would be relinquished to the Defense Ministry or on how many Wagner fighters — whose numbers Mr. Prigozhin recently put at 25,000 — would agree to be placed under the Russian Army’s command.

Mr. Prigozhin, in an audio message published on Monday by his news service, said that, before the rebellion, “less than 2 percent” of his forces had been willing to agree to the new command structure. He also said that he and his fighters had been preparing to give up their heavy equipment last week, despite his reservations, but decided against it after what he said was a Russian Army attack on a Wagner base, a claim for which he has offered no evidence. 

The Wagner group has a wide range of equipment, including tanks, multiple rocket launcher systems and aircraft.

It was possible that the group would seek to keep some of their equipment and move it to Africa, where it operates as a private militia and Russian proxy force in several countries. According to the deal brokered this weekend by the president of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, Mr. Prigozhin and Wagner would be able to continue their work in Africa, where the group has faced numerous allegations of human rights abuses.

The Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said that he could not give details about what would happen to Wagner recruiting centers inside Russia. There were reports on Tuesday that at least one of the centers in Siberia remained open. ....

 

 

 

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10 hours ago, karaddin said:

I expect a bunch of them to still see the front in Ukraine, it will just be split up from the people they know how to work with and sent into fodder infantry units to get killed with little to no support. Executing them without the political drama of executing them.

The professional experts say no to this, because Russia cannot afford to have such dissidents wrt to the Russian military's handling and fighting of the Ukrainian invasion mixed in with the rank-and-file Russians -- many of whom are conscripts and unwilling themselves. It's a circumstance for creating more dissent and rebellion, particularly as being used as fodder is the reason they rebelled in the first place. 

So the former Wagnerians will have their own cohort.

Which makes no sense to me, thinking in historical paradigms. Having a separate-but-so-called-equal force within the primary force is also a breeding ground for demand and rebellion.  We certainly have seen this in empires such as with Rome and the Ottomans.

As the MOD doesn't/hasn't paid or equipped or trained its conscripts all along, there is nothing that will change this.  Wagner's people got paid and equipped. 

Few of you seem to have understanding of how much wealth Prigozhin controls, and how he controls it. It's not like he's a got a strong room somewhere like Sforza, filled with gold (though he may well, like all billionaires do, have at least one of those too, in a secret hide-out).

The most likely scenario -- with the very little we KNOW now (and to honest, probably with the very little the principal Russian actors know now either)  Prigozhin and whomever can go to Africa, where Prigozhin-Wagner has many a base, and the wherewithall to continue extracting wealth -- or at least try to.  If the USA can't force financial entities to give up his control over his wealth production, Russia certainly cannot.  Plus, it really does look as though, poot is surrounded by clown on the order the of our Clown-as-Mayor -- they are without a clue to do anything but grab like babies every bit of money comes their way -- which is what Prigozhin objected to in the first place.

It seems the only real leverage poot's got is the families of Wagnerians.  Which, if they are slaughtered, imprisoned, will bode very badly for the futures of those who do that.

For Prigozhin himself, his real problem is where to find a safe haven, and Africa appears to be the only place.  The US won't take him -- at least as long as there's a Dem POTUS. China is way too iffy, even if China would accept him.

Poot has the same conundrum if he must run.

In the meantime he still has the same terror as he had previously: keeping the DOM controlled by those who cannot challenge him, due to stupidity and incompetence, while demanding they fight and win a war of invasion that DOM's leadership's stupidity, incompetence and greed has already failed at accomplishing.  However we look at this -- and at least in my case, recalling I am not an expert and don't KNOW anything more than anyone else, which is very little -- Poot's between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

 

Edited by Zorral
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It's been three days literally since this Prigozhin's Marching Band went on their Russian tour. 

I'd like to reserve judgement for a few more to see how this plays out, when the dust is settled. 

The rep of Prigozhin/Wagner within the military is a bit more complicated. At least that's my understanding. The higher ups absolutely despise their Wagner counterparts. The ordinary rank and file soldiers, who get to enjoy the Russian army experience on the front line, they have more contempt for their officer class. That's also part of the reason, why they met so little resistance. 

The equipment argument works the other way, too. So the Russian soldiers with little equipment saw the Wagnerites actually fighting with equipment and getting paid what was promised. So they were/are more pissed at the MOD. 

How Prigozhin wants to pay for Wagner in Belarusk is still the big question. Putin claimed it was entirely financed by the Russian state (around $ 1bn p.a. (from May '22 to May '23) That would be around $ 3m a day). Maybe Lukashenko will pick up the bill, which should decrease a bit.

This entire thing already had/has a negative impact on the Russian war effort. 

So in actual news (in contrast to speculation over the future of Prigozhin and Wagner) Ukraine has liberateed quite a bit of territory over the last couple of days. Esp. in Donetsk they have managed to liberate territory held by the DPR since 2014. Too early to plan a victory parade obviously, but progress.

 

 

Edited by A Horse Named Stranger
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Another interesting thing, is that at full strength Wagner is likely stronger than the Belarus army. Belarus has more bodies but Wagner is a well paid, well trained, and has a lot of real world combat experience. Not sure if that will matter but it's good to note.

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One certainty, is however this plays out, it's going to make things worse for millions and millions of Africans, as if millions and millions don't already suffer the worst conditions anywhere outside of Haiti -- plus, you know, climate change. Plus, you know, China also being a primary player there.

Edited by Zorral
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10 minutes ago, Darzin said:

Another interesting thing, is that at full strength Wagner is likely stronger than the Belarus army. Belarus has more bodies but Wagner is a well paid, well trained, and has a lot of real world combat experience. Not sure if that will matter but it's good to note.

But with no heavy equipment. The heavy equipment went to the Rosgvardia and other arms of the regular forces.

That's important qualifier. I'd back the guys with the tanks over the veterans without tanks.

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In front of my computer screen, hilarity ensues

Reading the Tea Leaves on the End of the War in Ukraine
In several recent books, experts on Russia and Ukraine weigh the importance of the Wagner Group and try to predict how Putin’s invasion will play out.

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/27/books/review/russia-ukraine-war-new-books.html

Quote

.... In considering where the war is going, it is useful to begin by remembering how wrong many Russian observers have been about its course so far. Back when it started, the Russian newspaper Izvestia promised a Ukrainian defeat within five days of the initial attack. Five weeks after the invasion, Putin’s spokesman claimed that Ukraine’s military was “largely destroyed.” ...

A Horse Named Stranger  --  Stating here that backing the guys with tanks over the other guys is pretty meaningless.  Banking on them to do what exactly?  Who is going to do what exactly?  How much heavy equipment -- if one side having heavy equipment depends on taking it from the other side -- to, what? invade Belarus?  Invade Africa? Aren't they invading Ukraine? 

Edited by Zorral
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Was a direct responds to Darzin pointing out that the Wagner guys have combat experience and are more arguably more capable than their Belarusk counterparts, who have the numbers. Hinting at potential danger for Lukashenko. In that hypothetical the Belarusk army would still have all the heavy equipment, and Wagner having pretty much nothing.

So that's pretty much a non-starter to take over Belarusk. At least under those conditions.

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39 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

But with no heavy equipment. The heavy equipment went to the Rosgvardia and other arms of the regular forces.

That's important qualifier. I'd back the guys with the tanks over the veterans without tanks.

Oh hmm well that does put a damper on things. 

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50 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

So that's pretty much a non-starter to take over Belarusk.

On what are you basing the idea that Wagner wants to / plans to take over Belarus?  Would Putin have 'sent' him there if that was the case?  Would Lukashenko voluntarily brokered a deal to have Wagner come into Belarus if that seemed likely? What is the source that Wagner has given up its heavy equipment, or even that it has any, or doesn't have any?

Without sources this remarkably comes through as merely pulling something out of a hat that has nothing in it to start with.  Does that make sense?  :cheers:

Like I can pull out of that same hat that Prigozshin's flitting to Belarus is where he can plan and broker a strategy for getting out of there as fast as possible, considering how close he is to the center of FSB's assassins.  (On the other hand, they and assassins from Chechen have tried over a dozen time to take out Zelensky and failed, so how good are they? But in Belarus, he may not be as surrounded by loyalists as is Zelensky.)  Also he's close enough to be extradited back into Russia, if Putin demands, and Lukashenko agrees.

Edited by Zorral
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2 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Was a direct responds to Darzin pointing out that the Wagner guys have combat experience and are more arguably more capable than their Belarusk counterparts, who have the numbers. Hinting at potential danger for Lukashenko. In that hypothetical the Belarusk army would still have all the heavy equipment, and Wagner having pretty much nothing.

So that's pretty much a non-starter to take over Belarusk. At least under those conditions.

OTOH, everyone involved this lies all the time about everything. So I wonder if Wagner will actually be handing over any heavy equipment or not.

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