Russian Defence Chief

Russian Defence Minister

Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, has been heavily under fire in a metaphorical and almost literal sense recently when members of the Wagner mercenary group revolted against the Russian federation, calling for the resignation of Shoigu.

Since then, he has been out of public eye, until Monday where he can be seen in a video released by his ministry showing him and other officers visiting troops in Ukraine. This seems to be a response to Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s claims that Russian troops fighting in Ukraine face mistreatment and neglect from the Russian Defence Ministry.

Prigozhin’s troops marched to Moscow to dethrone Russia’s corrupt leadership, but got stopped short after making a deal with the Kremlin, proposed by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. While a criminal case on the rebel leader is still open, his offensive has since stopped. After the deal, a Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that the criminal case will be dropped as well and mercenaries will not be prosecuted, while Prigozhin will be in exile in Belarus.

This does not however stop the wide critism of the Russian military from internal and external sources, especially as Russia has started facing more substantial losses since the Ukrainian counter-offensive. This, along with the disappeared Russian Defence Minister, sparked theories that Shoigu had resigned. This appearance seems to iron that out.

For Putin, the revolt is more damaging, as he has stood unchallenged in his position for more than two decades. Western media and officials call the revolt “extraordinary”, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying:

“I think we’ve seen more cracks emerge in the Russian facade.”

Foreign policy chief of the EU, Josef Borrell, said:

The monster is acting against his creator. The political system is showing fragilities, and the military power is cracking. The monster that Putin created with Wagner, the monster is biting him now.”

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