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The Wagner Mutiny and What It Means for China

The recent mutiny of the mercenary Wagner Group in Russia concluded abruptly in less than two days. Through the intervention of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, the military personnel of the Wagner Group ceased their advance towards Moscow and retreated to their bases. Media reported that Lukashenko successfully obtained assurances from the Russian government regarding the safety of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, and that Prigozhin and his private armed forces will be deployed to Belarus and stationed there – writes Mr. Kung Chan, founder of ANBOUND.

Although the immediate crisis has been resolved, the repercussions of this event will have long-lasting consequences.

First of all, the prospect of reconciliation between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prigozhin is highly improbable. During a crucial phase of the war in Ukraine, Prigozhin’s rebellion not only posed a threat to Russia but also caused humiliation to Putin. Such incidents are utterly unacceptable to the Russian president. Indeed, Putin has already vowed to bring Wagner rebellion leaders “to justice”.

The forthcoming period presents notable challenges to Putin’s authoritative control. Wagner Group openly challenged the Russian state and, by extension, Putin himself, compelling the president to acquiesce. This submissive reaction to adverse circumstances unveils the vulnerability of the Russian president’s wielded power in the presence of unforeseen contingencies.


The precise factors underpinning the Wagner incident remain elusive, and information disseminated through social media platforms is deemed untrustworthy, yet it appears that the principal catalyst resides in an internal confrontation between the Wagner Group and the Russian Ministry of Defense. In all likelihood, it was Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s endeavor to assimilate the Wagner troops that exerted considerable pressure on Prigozhin, prompting a precarious situation. The Russian Ministry of Defense, under Shoigu’s stewardship, acts as a representative body for Putin. Consequently, when Prigozhin confronts Shoigu and challenges the Ministry of Defense, he effectively challenges Putin’s authority directly.

The prospect of non-governmental cooperation between the United States and Prigozhin appears unlikely, although there remains a possibility of the United States extending some form of support. Considering the prevailing conditions, Ukraine still finds itself lacking the requisite capabilities to mount a robust counterattack. Recent intelligence suggests that the Russian military has effectively neutralized Ukraine’s counteroffensive efforts. It is worth noting that Ukraine’s offensive capacities remain relatively constrained.

The significance and potential implications of this event on China should not be underestimated. The Chinese public’s perception of the Ukraine conflict is notably influenced by the interplay between China and the U.S. Initially, there was a prevailing belief among the general Chinese public that Russia, as a nuclear-armed nation, would endure the collective pressure exerted by NATO countries despite its internal challenges. However, the sudden internal turmoil in Russia introduces an element of unpredictability, potentially upsetting the expected equilibrium.


Should Russia encounter setbacks or internal divisions during the conflict, it may trigger structural changes in the prevailing international geopolitical landscape characterized by the Ukraine conflict (Russia vs. NATO + the West) and the ongoing U.S.-China competition (China vs. the U.S. + some allies). Consequently, a reduction in pressure on the West from Russia could lead to an escalation of pressure on China from the U.S.

A better option for China is to refrain from getting entangled with Russia. In light of the complexity of the situation, maintaining a rational perspective would be crucial for China.

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EU Reporter publishes articles from a variety of outside sources which express a wide range of viewpoints. The positions taken in these articles are not necessarily those of EU Reporter.

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