According to recent reports, former Russian deputy defense minister Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev has joined the mercenary group Wagner as a deputy commander after being sacked from his role. This move has raised concerns about the group’s ties to the Russian government and their involvement in conflicts around the world.
Analysts have several hypotheses regarding the move. Some believe it was likely approved by the Vladimir Putin regime, for whom it is claimed to be a practical arrangement because it creates a post for a relatively important person after his ouster.
Others, however, believe that it could be a part of the growing power struggle around the Kremlin and that Gen. Mizintsev was removed of his duties because he was thought to have grown too close to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner.
In the early stages of the war last year, Mr Mizintsev, who oversaw the siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, had just been appointed deputy defence minister in charge of logistics and supply.
According to Wagner-affiliated Grey Zone, Mr. Mizintsev was “not the first and obviously not the last general who was out of place amid the bureaucracy and sycophancy,” in their words. In June, the European Union sanctioned Mr. Mizintsev and referred to him as the “Butcher of Mariupol.”
Meanwhile, Russia has been cracking down on freedom of expression since the invasion of Ukraine, with the recent arrest of a theatre director and playwright for their portrayal of Russian women who married members of the Islamic State. As tensions continue to rise, a Ukrainian counteroffensive is expected, with Russia bringing in more mercenary fighters from other parts of the frontline.