What’s next for Prigozhin’s Wagner Group?

Aug 25, 2023, 9:13am EDT
Yevgeny Prigozhin
PMC Wagner via Telegram via REUTERS
Jenna Moon/

African nations that use Wagner mercenaries, like the Central African Republic (CAR), are left with few options following Prigozhin's death. Cameron Hudson, a former CIA official, told the Financial Times that "Wagner was the option of last resort for these countries," and added that since they're now "in bed with Russia," they can't easily change course. Regardless of who is at the helm of Wagner, the countries in the paramilitary group's orbit will be there for some time.1

The current iteration of Wagner may soon "cease to exist" but it may reinvent itself, Joana de deus Pereira, with the Royal United Services Institute, told Sky News. With the organization being pushed from center stage by the Kremlin, mercenaries may defect to other groups. There is a possibility that a new version of the group may follow "with another branding, with a facelift."2

It's unlikely that Prigozhin's death will mean much for the war's frontlines. The group had already withdrawn a significant number if its forces from the war before, and according to recent Ukrainian estimates, only around 2,000 or 3,000 of the mercenaries remain in the country, down from a high of 50,000 earlier in the war.3