June 25, 2023


Putin's War on Ukraine Backfires, Leading to Wagner Uprising at Home  (Yaroslav Trofimov and Thomas Grove, June 24, 2023, WSJ)

By launching the ill-prepared invasion of Ukraine 16 months ago, a war that he expected to conclude with a triumph days later, Putin fell into the same trap.

Social tensions over accumulated losses and military setbacks in Ukraine have fueled the rise of Prigozhin and his Wagner paramilitary group, creating the biggest threat to Putin's rule since he came to power in 2000.

Wagner's soldiers were deployed in Africa and in Syria when Russian troops crossed into Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022. The Kremlin asked Prigozhin to join the war effort only after Russian troops failed to take Ukrainian capital Kyiv and were facing severe losses across northern Ukraine.

While regular Russian forces suffered a series of additional defeats in the fall of last year, Wagner achieved a rare success, capturing the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. That record has given Prigozhin the authority to speak honestly about the ineptitude of the Russian military--something that he did, with growing vitriol, over the past several months.

"Prigozhin is now telling the truth about the military failure and the official pretext for the invasion," said Fiona Hill, the chancellor-designate of Durham University in Britain who oversaw Russia policy in the Trump White House. "He openly says what a lot of other people are thinking."

Posted by at June 25, 2023 9:15 AM