Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) note that the rhetoric of Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms that he wants to keep the Wagner Group as a fighting force, separating it from Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Details: Analysts point out that Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he intends to keep the Wagner Group as a cohesive fighting force, not split it up.
However, he seeks to remove Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the private military company, from Wagner’s leadership and forces.
When asked directly about the future of Wagner as a combat unit, Putin persisted in his ludicrous claim that private military companies do not exist in Russia.
Putin confirmed that on 29 June he met with Prigozhin and 35 Wagner commanders.
Putin claimed that he offered Wagner fighters the option to serve under a Wagner commander (alias Sedoy [Grizzled) who has commanded Wagner forces for the last 16 months.
It further confirms ISW’s previous assessment that the Kremlin seeks to retain Wagner as a cohesive fighting force while separating it from Prigozhin.
On 14 July, Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder, Pentagon Press Secretary, stated that Wagner forces are not participating in military operations in Ukraine in any significant support or combat roles.
Analysts note that the Belarusian government and independent sources confirmed on 14 July that Wagner Group instructors previously deployed in Africa arrived at training grounds in Belarus.
Regarding the Ukrainian counteroffensive, experts confirmed that the Defence Forces continued operations in at least three areas of the front on 14 July and reportedly achieved success on some fronts.
The report also notes that Russian authorities detained former Russian Federal Security Service officer Mikhail Polyakov, who reportedly administers several popular Telegram channels covering internal Kremlin politics.
Analysts summarise: "Channels that speculate about internal Kremlin politics represent a specific niche of the Russian information space, and Polyakov’s detention suggests that the Kremlin may intend to suppress speculations about internal politics following Wagner’s rebellion".
The review did not overlook the interview of General Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who admitted that Ukrainian troops are conducting a campaign to block Russian military facilities on the territory of Russia.
The Washington Post cites Zaluzhnyi as saying that Ukraine was using domestically produced weapons to strike military targets in Russia because of Western concerns about the weapons provided.
Zaluzhnyi also said that increased Ukrainian indirect fire could pin down Russian forces and minimise Ukrainian casualties, but Ukraine currently depends on ammunition from other countries for this purpose. He also confirmed Ukraine's intention to liberate Crimea.
To quote the ISW’s Key Takeaways on 14 July:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin further indicated he intends to maintain the Wagner Group as a cohesive fighting force rather than breaking it up but seeks to separate Wagner Financier Yevgeny Prigozhin from Wagner leadership and forces.
- Belarusian government and independent sources confirmed on 14 July that Wagner Group instructors previously deployed in Africa previously arrived at training grounds in Belarus.
- Former 58th Combined Arms Army Commander Major General Ivan Popov’s dismissal continues to generate pronounced ire against the Russian military command and the Russian civilian leadership.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations on at least three sectors of the frontline on 14 July, and reportedly made gains in some areas.
- Russian forces conducted another series of Shahed drone strikes across Ukraine on 14 July.
- Russian authorities detained former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Mikhail Polyakov, who reportedly is the administrator of several popular telegram channels covering internal Kremlin politics.
- Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief General Valerii Zaluzhnyi acknowledged that Ukrainian forces are waging an interdiction campaign against Russian military targets in Russia.
- Russian and Ukrainian forces continued limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks and reportedly advanced around Bakhmut.
- Ukrainian and Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Avdiivka-Donetsk City line.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations along the western Donetsk-eastern Zaporizha Oblast border and reportedly made limited gains.
- Ukrainian forces continued counteroffensive operations in western Zaporizhia Oblast and reportedly advanced in this direction.
- Russia continues efforts likely aimed at keeping high ranking officers in their positions without needing special exemptions to retirement age limits.
- Russian occupation authorities continue efforts to consolidate administrative control of occupied territories by manipulating residence requirements and forcibly passportizing occupied populations.