The Wagner Group rebellion is a new step in instability and chaos

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On 23 and 24 June last - just as it was facing the counteroffensive by Ukraine - one of the most powerful states and armies on the planet were threatened by the Wagner Group, a private commando army made up of mercenaries linked to Putin’s own entourage. A whole military division, headed by Prigozhin, headed towards Moscow without encountering any obstacles. Situations like this, which seem absurd, are being repeated more and more as the putrefaction of capitalism accelerates. It is precisely the war in Ukraine that has become an accelerator of decomposition, spreading instability and chaos throughout the world.

The US, by setting the trap which pushed Russia into war with the overall aim of weakening China, is acting like a sorcerer's apprentice: it initially calculated that it could have some control over the conflict; now it turns out that it is unable to control its longer-term consequences. This compares with the "wars on terror" that justified the invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). Here again, the United States, in trying to maintain its world leadership, ended up provoking chaos in the Middle East. Although it initially succeeded in bringing the region under its control to a certain extent, and in dragging the reluctant European powers on board, the whole process fostered an even greater and irreversible destabilisation and chaos. [1]

Wagner's rebellion, although quickly curtailed, highlighted the fragilities of the Russian state, which threaten to lead to a political fragmentation, affecting not only the Russian bourgeoisie, but also leading the world to levels of great instability. What’s more, we are now seeing characters like Prigozhin enter the scene, ready to vie for control of power and, of course, of nuclear weapons.


Russia, a bomb that threatens to explode
The implosion of the Eastern bloc in the early 1990s confirmed that capitalism was entering its phase of decomposition, characterised by global disorder and a struggle of "each against all". The main cause of this collapse was the pressure of a dual economic and political failure of the Stalinist system in the context of an accelerating and deepening crisis of capitalism worldwide. The collapse of the USSR then led to brutal outbreaks of separatist nationalism throughout its territory.

After the thwarted coup d'état in mid-1991, this process went even further out of control, forcing the Western powers, mainly the USA, to try to contain the avalanche that was coming at them and that threatened to spill over the borders of the former USSR. These powers offered food aid, debt financing facilities, etc. This "aid" was not, of course, done out of altruism but, as always, was based on imperialist calculations aimed at benefitting from the new geopolitical configuration. Today, Russia is once again at the centre of convulsions, but this time in the context of a worsening situation and under much more serious and unpredictable circumstances.

The 30 years of deepening decomposition have increased the tendency for US hegemony to decline, which has exacerbated the imperialist ambitions of all the other countries, in particular reviving Russia's ambition to regain an important place in the imperialist constellation.

Now the Ukraine war is accelerating decomposition. The prolongation of the war is weakening Russia’s forces and undermining the unity of the bourgeoisie around the state, a process threatening to reach explosive levels. A year before the Wagner mutiny, we warned that the "special operation" on Ukraine risks "constituting a second profound destabilisation after the fragmentation resulting from the implosion of its bloc (1989-1992): on the military level it will probably lose its rank as the number 2 world army; its economy is already weakened and will fall into more and more trouble [... and] internal tensions between factions of the Russian bourgeoisie can only intensify, [...] Some members of the leading faction (cf. Medvedev) are already warning of the consequences: a possible collapse of the Russian Federation and the rise of diverse mini-Russias with unpredictable leaders holding nuclear arms” [2].

At the beginning of the war, the bourgeoisie seemed unified around Putin as the representative of the state, but as the conflict dragged on, rivalries and disputes between groups began to emerge. In January 2023, certain events were already foreshadowing tensions in the military leadership, as Sergei Surovikin, who commanded the Russian troops in Ukraine, was dismissed.

In the context of decomposition, any pretext can trigger rivalries, which soon became explosive. In this sense, the mutiny led by Prigozhin, although it may have appeared as a small fissure, quickly grew, showing the fragile unity within the power structure and the inability of the state to contain the dynamic towards chaos. Vladimir Gelman, a Russian professor and analyst, following the behaviour of the different sectors during Prigozhin's so-called "March for Justice", notes that while the military caravan did not receive open support from any military or civilian sector, neither did Putin: "nobody came out in support of him. Neither mayors nor regional leaders came out (...) they did not take any political steps...". This waiting to see which way the winds were blowing exposes the vigilance and caution displayed by different bourgeoisie groups in a context where mistrust and the clash of interests have increased. If people like Lukashenko offered himself as a negotiator with Prigozhin, it was to prevent the war from shifting to Belarus through a possible incursion of the "Kalinoŭski Regiment" formed by opponents of Lukashenko's government who are fighting on the Ukrainian side.


Decomposition is advancing and accelerating all over the world.

The bourgeoisies of the major powers have themselves expressed their fears of a breakdown of the Russian state. During the crisis between the Wagner group and the Russian army, "American officials were paying special attention to Russia's nuclear arsenal, nervous about the instability of a country with the power to annihilate most of the planet...". [3] If we look at their statements on the events, there is no doubt that the bourgeoisie as a whole is concerned about the difficulties of the Russian state as expressed by the Prigozhin mutiny. They all agree that there is great division and fragility in the state apparatus. Zelensky, president of Ukraine, was the first to say that Putin is weak and his government is "crumbling". Antoni Blinken, US Secretary of State, while saying, "It's too early to tell how this is going to end", assesses that there are "real fissures" in Putin's government, which distract and divide Russia and make it difficult for it to "pursue aggression against Ukraine". Even Trump, who has presented himself as a "friend" of Russia, claims that "Putin is somewhat weakened" and calls on the US government to take advantage of this to negotiate a ceasefire. China alone avoids expressing a perception of Putin's government's weakness and presents the Wagner mutiny as an "internal affair". The casualness with which it assesses events is more than a diplomatic act and in reality hides concerns about the effect that a weakening of Russia on its borders would have, and even more so if the break-up of the Russian Federation, so far its main ally, were to occur.

For his part, Putin claims that he is maintaining the unity and strength of the Federation, though he is trying to win the loyalty of the various organs of repression by promising more weapons and better salaries. But will this be enough to eliminate the divisions in the military structure and the low morale of the troops?

What is becoming increasingly clear is that as the war in Ukraine drags on, chaos and barbarism will spread and deepen, directly affecting Russia, but since it is “the largest and one of the most heavily armed states in the world [... its destabilisation] would have unforeseeable consequences for the whole world” [4].

Possible consequences of a prolonged war could be:

- widening of the cracks within the bourgeoisie, leading to the outbreak of a civil war, with the population as a whole and particularly the working class serving as cannon fodder;

- erratic and irresponsible actions on the part of the group in power headed by Putin, who, seeing himself cornered, could make use of the nuclear arsenal... For the time being, he announced the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory from 7 or 8 July;

-The emergence of irrational cliques vying for power, which would have a large stock of nuclear weapons at hand, ready to wield them at full blast in order to better position themselves in the new power set-up. The actions of the Wagner group are a clear illustration of this risk. Moreover, there are chilling precedents in this regard, for example, with the threat to bomb the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine, the largest in Europe and one of the 10 largest in the world, menacing humanity with the very real danger of nuclear catastrophe in the middle of Europe. But the war madness is not exclusive to one side of the bourgeoisie: the US has just supplied Ukraine with cluster bombs, which spread by the thousands, killing on the spot and lying dormant for decades.

Whatever initiatives are taken, they will lead to catastrophes for the world. As we stated at the end of 2022, the 20s of the 21st century are turning out to be the most turbulent in history, with an accumulation of disasters and suffering for humanity (pandemics, famines, environmental disasters...), which are out of control and raise the question of its survival as a species. But as it turns out, war, an intentional and planned action by the capitalist state is, without doubt, the main trigger of barbarism and chaos.

As for the international repercussions, although we cannot hazard a guess as the situation is highly unpredictable, there are already some indications that important countries in Eastern Europe are calculating how they can take advantage of this situation to advance their own imperialist trump cards, as in the case of Poland: the Ukraine war has given Poland a greater strategic importance for the USA, which has allowed it to strengthen its military forces with the provision of armaments by NATO, including advanced technology tanks (in anticipation of the accommodation of the Wagner group in Belarus [5]). This military build-up has gone hand in hand with the revival of Poland’s old imperialist dreams of extending its influence in eastern Europe.  [6]


Only the working class has a solution to the capitalist destruction.
In all these clashes between bourgeois groups, they do not stop spitting their venom against the working class. With their feints, military demonstrations and declarations, all the gangs of the ruling class seek to show their strength to the opponent, but also to sow fear and confusion among the workers. Each faction participating in the war tries to show itself as a victim or defender of freedom, in order to dominate and control the reactions of the exploited and to use them as real cannon fodder on the war fronts, or to subject them to immobility and passivity, accepting the increase of exploitation and the degradation of living conditions in the name of the "fatherland". In particular, taking advantage of the war in Ukraine and specifically the Wagner mutiny, the bourgeoisie is reinforcing its discourse on democracy and the fight against autocracy, trying at all costs to hide the fact that its rotten system, built on exploitation, misery and war, can only offer destruction and chaos. The prolongation of its existence endangers the very life of this planet, and the war in Ukraine, with all its dangerous destructive consequences, shows that this threat is growing.

In the face of capitalist barbarism, the only social force capable of stopping it is the proletariat.

Let us not forget that, "the first world war was not ended by diplomatic negotiations or by the conquests of this or that imperialism, IT WAS ENDED BY THE INTERNATIONAL REVOLUTIONARY UPRISING OF THE PROLETARIAT” [7].

T / RR, 12-07-2023



1. Imperialist interests behind the Afghan ‘mission’, World Revolution n° 327

2. The significance and impact of the war in Ukraine, International Review n° 168

3. Un motín en Rusia ofrece pistas sobre el poder de Putin (Russian mutiny offers clues about Putin's power)

4. The acceleration of capitalist decomposition poses the clear possibility of the destruction of humanity, International Review169

5. Polonia enciende las alertas en la frontera por la presencia del Grupo Wagner en Bielorrusia y pidió ayuda a la Unión Europea. (Poland raises warnings about the presence of the Wagner Group in Belarus and appeals to the European Union for help.)

6.  See: Polonia quiere anexionarse tres regiones del oeste de Ucrania cuando se negocie la paz (Poland wants to annex three regions in western Ukraine when peace is negotiated. )

7. Third Manifesto of the ICC, ICConline March 2023