Inside Russia’s Alleged Rebellion: Unravelling the Wagner PMC Crisis

Prigozhin and Wagner in Rostov on Don e1687584920757
A frame of the video that Evgeny Prigozhin published on Telegram confirming that Wagner PMC controls military infrastructures in Rostov-on-Don (Credits: Telegram channel Evgeny Prigozhin ChVK Wagner)

Recent developments in Russia have brought attention to the involvement of the Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) in an attempted armed rebellion or mutiny. The incident, which unfolded on the evening of June 23rd, 2023, has triggered a series of reactions and measures by key institutions, leaving the country on high alert.

In this report, we will delve into the events surrounding the allegations, the official responses, the resulting security measures implemented in Moscow and the affected regions, and possible future scenarios related to Russian domestic politics and the Ukraine conflict.

Information Background

  • Allegations and denials. On June 23rd, 2023, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC, released information claiming that the Russian military had launched an attack on the rear units of his company. In response, the Ministry of Defence swiftly denied these allegations, asserting that the information was false.
  • Government Appeal and Legal Actions. The deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, General Sergey Surovikin, in a video statement, appealed to the leaders and fighters of the military company, urging them to halt their movements towards Rostov-on-Don and return to their designated deployment points. The unconfirmed reports suggested Prigozhin intended to send PMC units in that direction.
    The Federal Security Service (FSB) started a criminal case against Prigozhin, charging him with inciting an armed rebellion. The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation deemed the legal proceedings lawful and justified. Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov presented this information to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
    The Russian National Antiterrorism Committee (NAK), reporting FSB’s information and statements, confirmed that the Russian Armed Forces continue to carry out combat missions on the line of contact with the armed forces of Ukraine in the area of ​​the so-called “Special Military Operation”. NAK stressed that Prigozhin’s statements might cause the beginning of a civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and labelled his actions a “stab in the back” to Russian servicemen fighting “pro-fascist” Ukrainian forces.
  • Government Involvement and Security Measures. Dmitry Peskov, the Presidential spokesperson, confirmed that the head of state had been informed of the events involving Prigozhin. Additionally, Peskov clarified that the Ministry of Defence, the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Russian Guard constantly provided reports to President Vladimir Putin regarding the measures taken in response to the attempted armed rebellion. The FSB called upon Wagner PMC fighters to detain Prigozhin and refuse to follow his orders.
  • Heightened Security in Moscow and Affected Regions. Moscow experienced a substantial increase in security because of the incident and Prigozhin’s statements. Local authorities secured critical locations with strong vigilance, and the National Guard’s special forces were deployed. Notably, traffic on the M-4 Don highway, leading out of Rostov-on-Don towards Aksai, was temporarily blocked. In the city itself, posts were established near the headquarters of the Southern Military District, with police patrols being deployed on central streets.
  • Rumours and Clarifications. Russian sources and Telegram channels reported that, during the night, residents of Rostov allegedly received messages claiming that a curfew had been imposed in the region, purportedly from the Ministry of Emergency Situations. However, the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Emergency Situations for the Rostov Region promptly refuted these claims, labelling them as fake news.
    At the early morning, the situation in the neighbouring Krasnodar Territory seems to be calm and under control, with no additional security measures being implemented. Indeed, as the governor of the Rostov Region Vasily Golubev announced on his Telegram channel, the local authorities instructed the administration of the city of Rostov-on-Don and life support services to take measures to maintain the functioning of all city systems.
    By contrast, in the last few hours, Telegram channels and Twitter accounts have disseminated videos and pictures of Wagner PMC fighters in Rostov-on-Don surrounding and capturing the Southern Military District’s headquarter. Indeed, at 07.30 AM. (Moscow time), on Telegram, Prigozhin published a video from Rostov-on-Don claiming that Wagner PMC taking control of the main military infrastructure in the Russian city.

Geopolitical Risk Scenarios

  1. Swift Government Suppression. The Russian government quickly and effectively suppresses Prigozhin’s rebellion. The security forces, acting on intelligence and instructions from the FSB, manage to detain Prigozhin and neutralise any remaining armed elements of the Wagner PMC. The government’s decisive actions prevent the rebellion from gaining significant traction, and Prigozhin faces a swift and severe legal response. The incident serves as a reminder of the state’s ability to maintain control and deter any future challenges to its authority.
  2. Escalation and Wider Conflict. Prigozhin’s rebellion could become a greater dispute if parts of the Wagner PMC can reorganise and increase their activities. They might gain support from other disenchanted factions, resulting in a broader armed opposition to the government. This rebellion poses a significant challenge to the Russian authorities, leading to prolonged instability and violence in the affected regions. The crisis may draw in external actors with their own interests in the region, further complicating the situation and potentially sparking a wider regional crisis.
  3. Negotiated Settlement and Political Reconciliation. The Russian government might seek a negotiated settlement with Prigozhin and the Wagner PMC. Recognising the potential risks and costs of a prolonged conflict, both sides engage in backchannel negotiations to find a resolution. Indeed, Prigozhin’s primary intention could be to seek Vladimir Putin’s help in his dispute with the Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and the Russian Army General Valery Gerasimov.
  4. Ukrainian Military Offensive. The Ukrainian forces might seize the opportunity presented by Prigozhin’s mutiny and launch a military offensive against the Russian forces, particularly targeting regions where Wagner fighters are stationed. Exploiting the internal crisis within Russia, the Ukrainian military aims to weaken the Russian presence and regain control over strategically important areas.


The unfolding events surrounding the alleged armed rebellion or mutiny involving the Wagner PMC have gripped Russia, resulting in a series of official responses and heightened security measures.

It is too soon to ascertain if Russia is experiencing a coup, or an established military insurrection, however, with the criminal proceedings against Prigozhin and the authorities’ attempts to keep control, the current internal crisis in Russia could have a great impact on the nation, Russia’s military operations in the Ukraine conflict, and put the Russian Defence Ministry and Army’s reliability in peril.

UPDATE 9.30 AM Putin Addressed the Nation

Putin and Wagner
President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation and accused the organiser of the rebellion of being traitors (Credits: RIA Novosti)

On June 24th, 2023, at 9.30 AM, President Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian people amidst the ongoing situation involving the Wagner PMC. He emphasised the need to set aside any internal strife during this critical period, when the destiny of the Russian people is at stake.

President Putin acknowledged the sense of betrayal experienced by Russia, driven by the excessive ambitions of certain individuals.

He praised the Wagner soldiers, who have been bravely fighting on the front-lines of the special operation, highlighting their heroism. However, he condemned those who organised the rebellion, considering them as betraying the trust of these courageous fighters.

In response, President Putin declared that the Armed Forces have been given a clear directive to take firm action in neutralising the organisers of the rebellion, underscoring the severity of the measures that will be implemented.

Author: Giuliano Bifolchi & Silvia Boltuc

Update at 9:30 AM CET: This report has been updated to reflect the latest developments surrounding the alleged armed rebellion or mutiny involving the Wagner PMC. For further information or analysis about the Russian Federation, contact us at

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