ladimir Putin’s regime has suffered ‘substantial damage’ as a result of the rebellion by the Wagner mercenary army, military experts have said.
The events showcased the “degradation” of Russia’s military reserves, the erosion of Mr Putin’s monopoly on his security services and the lack of experience of those conscripts defending Russian borders, the Institute for the Study of War said.
The mutiny will “almost certainly” degrade the morale of Russian personnel in Ukraine and Kyiv may adjust their counteroffensive to capitalise on this, the US-based think tank explained.
Dr Patricia Lewis, director of the International Security programme at the Chatham House think tank, said Mr Putin has been “weakened” by the events in the country.
Meanwhile it has emerged US congressional leaders were reportedly briefed on a build-up of Wagner forces days before the rebellion took place.
The head of the Russian military company Wagner is moving to neighbouring Belarus as part of a deal to end his rebellion.
After Yevgeny Prigozhin called off his mutiny on Saturday, Wagner fighters have begun to leave the southern city of Rostov-on-Don where their mutiny began. Yevgeny Prigozhin and his troops will not be prosecuted, the Kremlin says.
The announcement on Saturday evening followed a statement from the office of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko saying that he had negotiated a deal with Mr Prigozhin after previously discussing the issue with Mr Putin.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia “shows no one is in control” and there is “chaos”.
Travel returns to normal after Wagner mercenaries leave city
All transport restrictions in Russia’s Rostov region have been lifted, including those on highways, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing local officials.
“Bus and railway stations are working in normal mode. Tickets are on sale, all destinations are on schedule,” Sergey Tyurin, deputy minister of regional policy and mass communications for the Rostov region was quoted as saying.
Civilian killed in Ukraine in latest Russian shelling
A civilian man died after Russian forces shelled Ukraine’s southern city of Kherson, local governor said on Sunday.
Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson and parts of the Kherson region in November after months of Russian occupation, but Russian forces regularly shell the city and surrounding areas from the opposite side of Dnipro River.
“One of the shells exploded right in the middle of the room,” Oleksandr Prokudin said on the Telegram messaging app.
He said another woman was trapped under the rubble but alive.
Ukrainian authorities also reported that Russians shelled the south of Dnipropetrovsk region during the night, injuring one person and damaging three private houses.
Putin left ‘weakened’ by rebellion
A deal was struck to bring an end to an uprising by the Wagner group of mercenaries which included promising its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin safety, experts believe.
Dr Patricia Lewis, director of the International Security programme at the Chatham House think tank, told the PA news agency she also believes the Kremlin agreed that defence minister Sergei Shoigu would be sacked as part of the agreement.
She added that Vladimir Putin has been “weakened” by the events in the country.
She went on: “No longer can they call it (the Ukraine war) a special military operation and say it is about the protection of Russians in Ukraine.
“Those who understand it differently will have a bit of an opening.”
Pictured: Wagner troops pulling out of Rostov-on-Don overnight
US ‘had intelligence that suggested Prigozhin was planning military action’
US congressional leaders were reportedly briefed on a build-up of Wagner forces days before the rebellion took place.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said his mercenary unit’s camps in Ukraine had been attacked by rival forces from the Russian military on Friday, leading to them taking over the strategic city of Rostov-on-Don and marching towards Moscow before a deal was agreed for them to withdraw.
But CNN and the New York Times are reporting that US intelligence briefings on Wagner building troops near the Russian border were taking place earlier in the week.
Wagner Group mercenaries will join the official Russian military – reports
Some Wagner Group mercenaries will join the official Russian military after their leader called off their march on Moscow and agreed to relocate to Belarus, Sky News reported.
Yevgeny Prigozhin stood down his troops, who were heading towards the Russian capital, saying he wished to avoid spilling Russian blood.
His mercenaries were reportedly just 120 miles from Moscow after Prigozhin had vowed to “destroy anyone who stands in our way”. As part of the agreement, the full details of which are yet to be revealed, it was reportedly decided that Prigozhin will leave Russia for Belarus and some of his Wagner fighters will be subsumed into the Russian military.
Traffic restrictions still in place in Moscow
Russia’s Federal Road Agency urged residents of the Moscow region on Sunday to refrain from travelling along the M-4 “Don” major expressway until 10 am local time.
The agency had said earlier in the day on the Telegram messaging app, in a post now deleted, that traffic restrictions on the highway in the Moscow and Tula regions remained.
Heavily armed Russian mercenaries who had advanced most of the way to Moscow on Saturday then halted their approach, de-escalating a major challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power, in a move their leader said would avoid bloodshed
Situation in rebellion city Rostov-on-Don ‘calm’
The situation around the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don was calm and street traffic resumed, RIA state news agency said on Sunday after Yevgeny Prigozhin and his mercenaries left the city.
In a video on the agency’s Telegram messaging app, which it said was taken in the city of Rostov-on-Don, a man was sweeping a street and cars were moving along another street.
Reuters could not independently verify the report.
Late on Saturday, Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group, was seen leaving the district military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don after halting a rebellion against Russia’s military establishment.