You are here
Home > News > ISW: Wagner Group remains out of favor with Kremlin

ISW: Wagner Group remains out of favor with Kremlin

The leadership of the Russian defense ministry is exploiting and exacerbating the frontline failures of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mercenary Wagner Group in order to weaken him, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) assessed in its recent report.

The report establishes a timeline of “the rivalry between Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin and the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), which likely reached a boiling point over Bakhmut,” the U.S. think tank wrote in its latest report.

NEW: Tonight's #Ukraine update establishes a comprehensive timeline of the rivalry between #Wagner Group financier Yevgeny #Prigozhin and the #Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), which likely reached a boiling point over #Bakhmut. w/ @criticalthreats

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 13, 2023

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoygu and Chief of General Staff General Valery Gerasimov want to exterminate Wagner Group forces in Bakhmut in order to weaken Prigozhin and thwart his ambitions to increase his influence in the Kremlin.

As ISW recalls, the defense ministry cut off the Wagner Group’s ability to gain additional forces by recruiting prisoners and restricted access to ammunition, something Prigozhin himself publicly complained about. He also accused the military authorities of deliberately allowing Wagner Group forces to be wiped out in assaults and street fighting in Bakhmut to spare regular troops.

2/ The #Russian MoD is currently prioritizing eliminating #Wagner on the battlefields in #Bakhmut, which is likely slowing down the rate of advance in the area.

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 13, 2023

Heavy losses

The Ukrainian decision not to withdraw from Bakhmut, contrary to Prigozhin’s expectations, has led to heavy losses and the need to use better-trained, ‘elite’ Wagner troops, which now also need replenishing.

ISW: Putin no longer exercises centralized control over Russian information space

Judging from the words of Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, the Kremlin has relinquished centralized control over Russia’s…

see more

The ISW believes that such a situation may be in the Russian defense ministry’s favor, as it causes heavy losses in the Wagner Group and at the same time weakens Prigozhin’s positions.

Prigozhin’s move

The actions of Shoygu and Gerasimov may be revenge for the conflict initiated by Prigozhin in May last year, when he managed to curry favor with Putin, presumably by convincing the dictator that increasing the commitment of Wagner Group forces by, among other things, additional recruitment in prisons would avoid mobilization.

At the same time, Prigozhin played up the failures of the command and the regular army in Ukraine to strengthen his position. He openly criticized the leadership of the defense ministry and the military command, supported by ultranationalist ‘military bloggers’ on social networks sympathetic to him.

“Putin’s decision to side with Prigozhin likely angered Shoigu and Gerasimov, who were then tasked with sharing limited equipment and ammunition with Wagner mercenaries,” ISW assesses.

According to the think tank, Putin, who is a risk-averse player, probably, later on, decided to limit the threat by strengthening the defense ministry again.


ISW further stated that Putin and the defense ministry may use Prigozhin as a scapegoat for the losses in Bakhmut when the offensive dies down.

4/ #Putin used #Wagner to protect his regime from detrimental societal ramifications of mobilization, which also continues to inhibit his war efforts in #Ukraine.

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) March 13, 2023

At the same time, analysts estimate, Prigozhin is unlikely to regain the favor of the Russian dictator. However, ultimately the future of the Wagner Group depends on how successfully Prigozhin convinces the Kremlin of his loyalty.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.