WSJ: Prigozhin Intended to Capture 2 Russians

Sources: Gen. Valery Gerasimov, Sergey Shoigu were in Wagner Group leader's crosshairs
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2023 10:40 AM CDT
WSJ : Prigozhin's Plot Involved Capturing These 2 Russians
In this handout image taken from video and released on May 5, head of Wagner Group Yevgeny Prigozhin stands in front of multiple bodies lying on the ground in an unknown location.   (Prigozhin Press Service via AP)

A new report from the Wall Street Journal is doubling down on the Yevgeny Prigozhin vs. Chief of General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov/Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu narrative. The Wagner Group leader had made no secret of his disdain for the men, and the Journal's sources say Prigozhin's original plan was to capture the two when they made a visit to a Ukrainian border region—with the expectation that a swath of Russia's armed forces would join him in rising up against their former commanders. Those sources say Russia's FSB security service learned of the plot two days before it was to go into action, causing Prigozhin to accelerate his timeline and act on Friday. Two takes from the Journal:

  • "The plot's premature launch was among the factors that could explain its ultimate failure after 36 hours, when Prigozhin called off an armed march on Moscow that had initially faced little resistance."
  • "The intelligence raises questions about the extent of Putin's authority after Moscow failed to prevent Wagner troops from marching almost all the way to Moscow despite the Kremlin's knowledge of the conspiracy."

Western intelligence learned of the plan in advance, too, per the Journal, which reports those officials thought the original plot "had a good chance of success" but failed after Prigozhin had to pivot to Plan B. The New York Times reported earlier Wednesday via its own sources that Gen. Sergey Surovikin, who led Russian forces in Ukraine until he was replaced by Gerasimov earlier this year, knew of Prigozhin's plans ahead of time. The Journal's sources echo that it's thought Prigozhin may have looped in Surovikin. It adds, "It couldn't be determined whether Surovikin passed this information on to the FSB, or how the agency found out about Prigozhin's plans." (More Russia rebellion stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.