After Prigozhin's Death, Putin Issues Wagner Force Decree

Mercenaries must swear allegiance to Russian government
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2023 2:50 PM CDT
After Prigozhin's Death, Putin Issues Wagner Force Decree
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a videoconference in the Kremlin in Moscow on Friday.   (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

All private military contractors working for Russia, including Wagner Group mercenaries, now must swear allegiance to the government under a decree signed by President Vladimir Putin. The decree, issued two days after the Wagner hierarchy apparently was killed in a plane crash, applies to anyone involved in military activities in Ukraine, assisting the Russian army, or working in territorial defense units, the BBC reports. Petro Burkovskyi, of the Democratic Initiatives Foundation think tank based in Ukraine, said the order is a clear message to Wagner fighters: "Either take the oath and keep your arms or disarm yourself. You obey or you go to prison."

Putin also is telling military intelligence to "find and prosecute Wagner fighters," Burkovskyi said. The decree includes wording for the oath that requires promising to follow the orders of military commanders and senior leaders, per NBC News, which it describes as needed to forge the spiritual and moral foundations of the nation's defense. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner boss killed in the crash, had led a brief rebellion in Russia in June. "Putin wants to have tighter control on Wagner to make sure he won't be facing another crisis in the future," said Natia Seskuria of the London think tank Royal United Services Institute. But there may be Wagner troops who were aligned with Prigozhin who won't take the new oath. "This can potentially create problems for Putin in a longer-term perspective," Seskuria said. (More Vladimir Putin 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.