Wagner, a private military company with ties to the Kremlin, has been accused of plotting to assassinate high-ranking Russian military officials in a bid to destabilize the country and pave the way for a coup. According to sources familiar with the matter, Wagner’s operatives had been gathering intelligence and preparing for the operation for months, but accelerated their plans after a leak exposed their intentions to the public.
The leak, which occurred in April, revealed that Wagner had been contracted by a rogue faction within the Russian security apparatus to eliminate key figures in the defense ministry, the general staff, and the intelligence services. The faction, which is believed to have links to former oligarchs and foreign powers, wanted to create a power vacuum and seize control of the government.
Wagner’s operatives were reportedly trained in covert operations, sabotage, and assassination techniques at a secret base in Syria, where they also participated in combat missions against the Assad regime’s enemies. They were equipped with sophisticated weapons and equipment, including sniper rifles, explosives, and encrypted communication devices.
The leak sparked a massive manhunt by the Russian authorities, who arrested dozens of suspected Wagner members and associates in raids across the country. Some of the operatives managed to escape and went into hiding, while others fled abroad. The authorities also seized documents, computers, and phones that contained evidence of Wagner’s activities and contacts.
Wagner’s leader, Dmitry Utkin, a former officer of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, is still at large and is considered one of the most wanted fugitives in Russia. Utkin is known for his close ties to Yevgeny Prigozhin, a wealthy businessman and ally of President Vladimir Putin who is often referred to as “Putin’s chef” because of his catering contracts with the Kremlin.
Prigozhin has denied any involvement in Wagner’s plot and claimed that he has no connection to Utkin or his company. He has also dismissed the leak as a fabrication by his enemies who want to tarnish his reputation and harm Russia’s interests.
However, analysts and experts have cast doubt on Prigozhin’s claims and suggested that he may have been behind Wagner’s operation or at least aware of it. They have pointed out that Prigozhin has a history of funding and supporting paramilitary groups that carry out covert missions in various countries, such as Ukraine, Libya, Sudan, and Venezuela. They have also noted that Prigozhin has a vested interest in destabilizing Russia’s military leadership, as he stands to gain from lucrative contracts and influence in the event of a regime change.