President Putin accused Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of Wagner, of committing treason in a national address on Saturday morning, following an armed coup attempt. President Putin called on the participants to immediately cease their criminal activities against the state and condemned them for taking up arms against their comrades. This betrayal is particularly severe as it occurs during the NATO-Russian proxy war, in which Russia is fighting for its survival.
Rivalry Between The Two
Prigozhin’s claims of acting in defense of Russia’s national interests do not hold up under scrutiny. The rivalry between Wagner and the Defense Ministry escalated when Prigozhin accused the military establishment of mishandling the special operation and withholding ammunition from his group. However, Russia emerged victorious in the Battle of Artyomovsk, undermining his narrative.
In response, the Defense Ministry made it mandatory for all private military companies (PMCs) to sign contracts with them, which Prigozhin vehemently refused to do.
This put him in direct opposition to President Putin, who stated that social guarantees from the state require a contract with the government and Defense Ministry.
Speculations about Prigozhin’s relationship with Putin become irrelevant after President Putin declared him a traitor and a threat to the unity of their country during this existential conflict with the West. Prigozhin’s armed coup attempt is seen as a betrayal, risking the revival of Kiev’s failed NATO-backed counteroffensive.
Treason By Prigozhin
There were indications that some elites were open to comprehensive reforms in Russia, as seen during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum where Prigozhin received recognition as a trendsetter. If he had remained committed to the Russian Constitution, he might have gained enough support to see his proposals implemented.
However, Prigozhin deviated from the path, likely triggered by two events: the requirement for PMCs to sign contracts with the Defense Ministry and President Putin’s signals of a political resolution to the proxy war. By going rogue, Prigozhin committed treason by taking up arms against the state.