ISW: Prigozhin speculates there is Kremlin conspiracy to undermine, 'neutralize' Wagner Group

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed he received a press question exposing a plot spearheaded by Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Russian Security Council Secretary to undermine and “neutralize” the Wagner Group.

The Institute for the Study of War said in its latest update that Prigozhin’s press service published a claimed request for comment on March 16 from Russian outlet Nezavisimaya Gazeta asking if Prigozhin was aware of alleged discussions between Putin and Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev regarding the future of the Wagner Group.

The press comment claims that information on these discussions has recently circulated on Russian and Ukrainian Telegram channels and alleges that Patrushev suggested to Putin that there will be “nothing left” of Wagner in “one and a half to two months.”

The post claims that Patrushev suggested that upon Wagner’s destruction in Ukraine, Prigozhin will try to “unite the former and remaining active Wagner fighters under a far-fetched pretext,” arm them, and “send them to the territory of Russia to seize power in the regions bordering Ukraine with a possible advance inland.”

The post concludes that Patrushev has already ordered observation and control over the movement of former Wagner fighters and that Putin reportedly agreed with this step and thanked Patrushev for his efforts to “neutralize Wagner in general and Yevgeny Prigozhin in particular.” 

ISW has not observed “any information to suggest that these discussions have happened,” nor has ISW captured any speculation in the Russian information space about them. Nezavisimaya Gazeta has not published the press comment on its own site. No record of the comment is visible anywhere other than in references to the post by Prigozhin’s press service. 

“The lack of external confirmation on this subject suggests that Prigozhin has fabricated the alleged plot to further several information operations on behalf of Wagner and his own reputation,” the ISW said.