NYT: US intel suggests Russian General Surovikin knew in advance of Wagner chief Prigozhin’s rebellion plans

Sergey Surovikin, Russian general and deputy commander of the Russian group of troops in Ukraine, knew in advance of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plot to rebel against Russia’s military leadership, The New York Times reports, citing US officials close to the intelligence community.

Washington is trying to figure out whether Surovikin was helping Prigozhin during the coup. According to the newspaper, US officials claim that other Russian generals possibly also backed Prigozhin’s armed rebellion attempt.

“Mr. Prigozhin would not have launched his uprising unless he believed that others in positions of power would come to his aid. If General Surovikin was involved in last weekend’s events, it would be the latest sign of the infighting that has characterised Russia’s military leadership since the start of Mr. Putin’s war in Ukraine and could signal a wider fracture between supporters of Mr. Prigozhin and Mr. Putin,” NYT writes.

The newspaper notes that the FSB dropped a criminal case against Prigozhin and the Wagner Group on the charge of rebellion on 27 June. However, if Putin discovers evidence that General Surovikin directly helped the Wagner chief, he won’t have any other choice but to remove him from the command, officials and experts told NYT.

Washington believes,

Surovikin’s support could explain why Prigozhin is “still alive”

despite the fact that he captured a major Russian military hub and ordered an armed march on Moscow.

General Surovikin is the commander who improved defence lines along the frontline following Ukraine’s successful counter-offensive last year. In January, he was removed from the top commander’s office but he retained influence on military operations and is still popular with the troops, NYT reports. Surovikin was one of the generals regularly praised by Prigozhin, who was involved in a bitter conflict with the rest of the Defence Ministry.

The newspaper adds that much of what the US and its allies know is preliminary reports.

“US officials have avoided discussing the rebellion publicly, out of fear of feeding Mr. Putin’s narrative that the unrest was orchestrated by the West. Still,

American officials have an interest in pushing out information that undermines the standing of General Surovikin,

whom they view as more competent and more ruthless than other members of the command,” NYT writes.

General Surovikin was the first top commander to speak out in the early hours on 24 June straight after the mutiny began, posting a video address to urge mercenaries to stop and resolve everything peacefully, because “the enemy is just waiting for our domestic political situation to escalate”.

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