Russia’s Gen. Surovikin Arrested, May Have Known of Wagner Revolt: Reports

June 29, 2023

Reports have surfaced that Russian army deputy commander Gen. Sergei Surovikin has been arrested amid a crackdown on sympathizers of this past weekend’s two-day uprising by the Wagner mercenary group.

Surovikin, the head of Russia’s Air Force, has not been seen in public since Saturday.

The Moscow Times, citing sources close to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, reported that Surovikin was under arrest as of Wednesday. 

Rumors of Surovikin’s arrest had surfaced as early as Sunday when military blogger Vladimir Romanov reported he’d been detained. 

U.S. intelligence claims Surovikin had advance knowledge of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s revolt against the Kremlin’s military command.

According to New York Times sources, intel officials are currently trying to learn whether Surovikin helped plan the rebellion, the reported intention of which was for the Wagner mercenaries to capture Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and top commander Gen. Valery Gerasimov in protest to how the military brass has been prosecuting the war in Ukraine. 

It remained unclear as of Thursday morning, however, whether Surovikin had been charged as a plotter in the uprising, or was simply under detainment for interrogation. 

Nicknamed “General Armageddon” for his brutality in Syria, Surovikin was promoted last autumn to manage the war in Ukraine—then was swiftly demoted, though he reportedly remained a favorite of Russia’s pro-war hardliners.

This past spring, he began acting as a caretaker of the Wagner fighters on the front lines. Prigozhin has in the past called Surovikin “the most able commander in the Russian army.”

The uprising began on Friday, when Prigozhin marched his columns of mercenaries into the Russian city of Rostov near Ukraine’s front lines. Prigozhin said his fighters “blockaded” the town “without firing a single shot.”

It ended Saturday after a deal was reportedly struck by Lukashenko that Prigozhin’s mercenaries would receive immunity, and that charges brought against Prigozhin himself would be dropped, once he turned his columns away from their subsequent march toward Moscow. Before turning back, the mercenaries had come within 200 kilometers of the capital city.

Prigozhin, who is now exiled in Belarus as per the deal, has insisted the uprising was never about regime change and has refused to call Wagner’s actions a “coup.”

Despite multiple reports of his arrest, Surovikin’s daughter has insisted to Russian media that her father is at work and is “fine.”

According to at least one Western official, the arrest of Surovikin is part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “cleaning house” after the short-lived uprising.

“[W]e understand that there will be more people who will follow,” the official told the Financial Times.

PHOTO: Surovikin in December 2022, per Kremlin

Read more exclusive news from Political IQ.

Related

Newsletter

Get the featured stories in your email and don't miss out on important news.

Previous

Biden Speaks During Visit To NH

Next

Biden Speaks During Visit To NH