Demise of Wagner leaders unlikely to have immediate impact on stability of Russia's regime - Constitution Protection Bureau

  • 2023-08-25
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - The death of Wagner mercenary group's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin is unlikely to have a significant impact on the stability of Russia's domestic politics and regime in the short term, LETA was told at the Constitution Protection Bureau (SAB).

The circumstances that led to Prigozhin's mutiny in June - the difficult situation on the frontline, problems in Russia's armed forces, the impact of Western sanctions - are still there, which in the long run increases the likelihood of political tensions inside Russia, SAB experts believe. It is quite possible though that the Kremlin will use this precedent to prevent similar escalations in the future. 

The demise of Wagner's leaders will not have an immediate impact on the Ukraine war, as  most Wagner fighters have already left Ukraine. Likewise, the Prigoznin-led mutiny in June did not affect Russia's military capabilities in Ukraine, as Wagner mercenaries were already retreating from Bakhmut and were not involved in strengthening Russia's defense positions. 

SAB experts also believe that the death of Prigozhin and his lieutenants will not leave a significant impact on the existing threat on Latvia's border with Belarus, as the current situation is related to the hybrid war launched by Belarus against Poland and the Baltic states and not to the presence of Wagner mercenaries on Belarusian soil.

SAB expects the Balrus regime to continue using organized illegal migration in Russia's interests to maintain pressure on the European Union's external border. 

As reported, according to the US Institute for the Study of War (ISW), Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and founder Dmitry Utkin reportedly died after Russian forces shot down an aircraft transporting senior Wagner commanders over Tver Oblast.

"It is highly unlikely that members of the Russian military, in particular Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov, would have dealt with Prigozhin without Putin's orders," the think tank's analysts conclude, adding that the entire Russian elite was likely convinced that Prigozhin was still alive after the June mutiny only because of Putin's mercy.

ISW said that the downing of Prigozhin's plane did not happen by accident on 23 August, exactly two months after the start of the mutiny on 23 June.