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ISW: Russian sources speculate on specifics of Lukashenko-mediated deal with Prigozhin

by Rachel Amran June 26, 2023 5:49 AM 2 min read
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Russian independent news outlet Meduza, citing unnamed internal Kremlin sources, reported that Yevgeny Prigozhin initially tried to get in touch with the Russian Presidential Administration midday June 24 as Wagner fighters moved north from Rostov-on-Don towards Moscow.

According to their information, Putin refused to speak with Prigozhin, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment.

Meduza noted that once Prigozhin observed the lack of widespread military support for Wagner’s actions and changed his mind on Wagner’s prospects, the Kremlin turned to negotiations. The people involved in the talks included Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Office Anton Vaino, and Russian Ambassador to Belarus Boris Gryzlov. Vaino and Gryzlov’s possible involvement was not reported on June 24.

A prominent Kremlin-affiliated military blogger also questioned whether the deal will hold Wagner or Prigozhin accountable in any way for the deaths of at least 13 Russian airman on June 24.

Prigozhin’s whereabouts cannot be verified beyond his departure from Rostov-on-Don late on June 24. Russian outlet RTVI claimed that Prigozhin’s press service told RTVI that Prigozhin “sends his regards” and will answer all questions “when he is on normal communication,” and a prominent Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel shared an AI-generated image of Prigozhin holding a finger to his lips and stating “plans love silence,” a copy of the phrase commonly used in Ukraine about operational security.

As ISW observed on June 24, the specifics of the deal are still unclear in the open source beyond speculation and rumor. "The fallout of Wagner’s armed rebellion has not yet concluded, and it remains to be seen how the deal will be implemented, if all involved parties will comply fully."

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