Surovikin: Russian general missing since Wagner mutiny ‘resting’

Surovikin reportedly had advance knowledge of the Wagner rebellion. A lawmaker says he’s ‘not available for now’.

General Sergei Surovikin
General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, visits the joint headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces involved in military operations in Ukraine [File: Sputnik/Gavriil Grigorov/Kremlin via Reuters]

A Russian lawmaker has said Sergei Surovikin, a deputy commander of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, who has not been seen in public since the Wagner Group mutiny, is “resting”.

Dubbed “General Armageddon” for his aggressive tactics in the Syrian and Chechen conflicts, he was last seen when he posted a video appeal urging top mercenary Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, to cease his rebellion in Russia last month.

Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Russian State Duma Defence Committee, said in a video posted to social media on Wednesday, “Surovikin is currently resting. [He is] not available for now.”

Last month, a New York Times report based on a United States intelligence briefing said that Surovikin had advance knowledge of the mutiny and that the Russian government was investigating whether he was complicit.

Some Russian outlets reported that the missing official had been arrested, but there was no official confirmation and the Kremlin declined to answer questions.

Shortly after the Wagner rebellion ended, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, when asked whether President Vladimir Putin still trusted Surovikin, said: “[Putin] is the supreme commander-in-chief and he works with the defence minister and with the chief of the General Staff.”

Several of Russia’s leading generals dropped out of public view following the mercenaries’ armed rebellion on June 23-24, which aimed to oust Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Commander-in-Chief Valery Gerasimov.

On Monday, Gerasimov was seen in a video for the first time since the episode, pictured listening to a report about Ukrainian missile attacks.

Wagner rebellion

In scenes that shocked the world, Russia’s Wagner Group mercenaries began their uprising on June 23. They quickly seized a southern Russian city and threatened to march on Moscow.

They halted their advance, with Prigozhin claiming he did not want to overthrow Putin, but rather protest against the conditions endured by his forces in Ukraine.

The Wagner chief had for months railed against Russia’s top brass, accusing them of failing to properly arm his fighters despite their alleged successes in Ukraine.

Regardless, Prigozhin’s mutiny is widely understood to have posed the most serious challenge to Putin since he assumed the presidency in 1999.

Ultimately, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal between Russia and Wagner to end the rebellion.

Prigozhin and his men were to move to Belarus, but Lukashenko announced last week that the Wagner chief only visited the country and was now back in Russia.

On Monday, the Kremlin announced that Putin, who has cast the Wagner chief as a backstabber, met with Prigozhin five days after the short rebellion.

According to Pavel Felgenhauer, a defence and military analyst based in Moscow, an “uneasy ceasefire” is being observed by Russia and Wagner.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies