General Sergei Surovikin is the head of the Russian aerospace forces and deputy commander of the combined group of Russian invading troops in Ukraine.
Officially, the Russian Defence Ministry’s office did not comment on this information.
Many media outlets previously reported that Surovikin supported Wagner’s boss Prigozhin’s rebellion.
According to Dosie’s Telegram Channel, Sergey Surovikin and more than 30 other Russian generals and officials were honorary members of the Wagner PMC. According to documents available in the Dosie, Surovikin became a Wagner member in 2017. He was issued a personal PMC badge numbered M-3744.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday, June 28th, citing US officials briefed on American intelligence, which has prompted questions about what support the mercenary leader had inside the top ranks, that Surovikin had prior knowledge of the armed uprising of Prigozhin.
Russian media Meduza notes the following noteworthy observations about the reported Surovikin arrest:
- Information about Surovikin’s arrest appeared in Russian telegram channels on June 28th. The Russian Defence Ministry-affiliated telegram channel Rybar wrote that “Surovikin has not been seen since Saturday” and that “there is a theory that he is under interrogation”.
- The Moscow Times, citing two sources close to the Defence Ministry and “war correspondent” Vladimir Romanov, wrote that Surovikin had been arrested.
- Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not respond to a question about what was going on, advising journalists to contact the Defence Ministry.
- During Yevgeny Prigozhin’s mutiny, Surovikin recorded a video message to Wagner PMC mercenaries, urging them to “stop” and return to their permanent bases. According to US intelligence, Surovikin knew in advance that Prigozhin was preparing a mutiny.
The reports that Surovikin was aware of the plot, if confirmed, could help explain the weak military response to the coup.
Most analysts inside and outside Russia were skeptical that Surovikin, a loyalist who commanded Russian forces under heavy pressure from the Ukrainian counteroffensive, would join a full-scale insurgency.
American military analyst Rob Lee said Wagner technically fought with troops loyal to Slovikin over the weekend.