Russian reportedly arrests top general over Wagner rebellion

Russian General Sergei Surovikin has been reportedly arrested, the Moscow Times wrote on June 28, citing its sources in Russia’s Defense Ministry.

One of the outlet’s sources claims that Surovikin has been detained in relation to the rebellion of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group.

“Apparently, he (Surovikin) chose Prigozhin’s side during the uprising, and they got ahold of him,” the Moscow Times cited its sources, adding that the general’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Surovikin was the top commander of Russian forces in Ukraine until he was replaced by Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov in January 2023.

Prigozhin has a long-standing feud with Gerasimov and much of Russia’s military leadership. The mercenary boss called Russia’s chief of staff incompetent and has resisted the government’s attempts to incorporating Wagner into the regular armed forces.

Prigozhin even named the military’s attempt to “dissolve” his company as the main reason for his rebellion. According to the Wall Street Journal, the oligarch intended to capture both Gerasmiov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The Moscow Times noted that Russian military blogger Vladimir Romanov first spread the rumors of Surovikin’s arrest on June 25.

The Russian Defense Ministry has not commented on the arrest.

Earlier on June 28, The New York Times reported that Surovikin, formerly a top commander in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was aware of Prigozhin’s rebellion in advance. CNN later wrote that other figures in Russian military and intelligence cadres may have been aware of the upcoming uprising.

According to the Institute for the Study of War, the rebellion highlighted weaknesses in Putin’s leadership and exposed how unprepared Russia’s defense ministry is for an attack.

The Wagner Group’s founder launched an armed rebellion against the Russian government on June 23. His mercenaries occupied the city of Rostov and marched to within 200 km of Moscow, only to abruptly end the insurrection less than 24 hours later on June 24.

After a deal between the Kremlin and Prigozhin, allegedly brokered by Belarus’ dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko, Russian officials said that the Wagner founder and his contract soldiers would be allowed to leave for Belarus.