How the Wagner Group Became Too Powerful for Putin to Punish
On June 23, 2023, tanks rolled into Moscow and into the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, and troops surrounded military and government buildings. They were fighters from the Wagner Group, a private battalion. The group’s leader is Yevgeny Prigozhin, who sold hot dogs and ran a restaurant on a boat where Putin liked to dine before he became the head of this mercenary outfit. On that June day, he was initiating the strongest challenge to the Kremlin since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Joshua Yaffa has written an extraordinary piece about the Wagner Group’s global reach, its brutal battlefield tactics in Ukraine, and its mysterious decision to mutiny. He joins Tyler Foggatt to discuss it, and to examine how Prigozhin became such a strange and significant player within Russia’s military apparatus.