By: Sam Doak
July 21 2023
This is an old video and cannot be interpreted as proof of the group's plans following its partcipation in a mutiny in late June.
A recent viral video appears to show Yevgeny Prigozhin outlining plans relating to the Wagner Group. Wagner PMC is a mercenary group founded by Prigozhin and Dmitry Utkin in 2014. Since then, it has played instrumental roles in conflict zones worldwide, including in Ukraine.
The video in question attracted significant attention because Wagner troops have not been present on the front lines in Ukraine since the group launched a short-lived mutiny on June 23, 2023. It seemingly shows Prigozhin announcing a return to combat zones in the country, stating, “We are resting and repairing. We still have… On June 5, we went out. On August 5, according to forecasts, Wagner PMC, in full combat readiness will continue to perform the tasks that have been set.”
Shared widely in recent days, it appears this footage has convinced several social media users that Wagner’s leadership is preparing for an imminent return to combat duties in Ukraine. One video posted on Twitter on July 11 with the caption “Prigozhyn announces that Wagner intends to return to the battlefield on August the 5th,” has been viewed over 428,000 times, according to the metrics made available by Twitter.
While this video does not appear to have been doctored in any way, Logically Facts has concluded that the timing of its filming disproves claims that it is evidence of plans for the Wagner Group to return to combat duties in Ukraine in the near future.
A reverse image search reveals that this footage was first published on June 14, 2023. As noted by the Associated Press, a video seemingly showing Prigozhin addressing the same audience was also published the day prior, on June 13.
The date this video was filmed and released is an important piece of context as it predates the Wagner mutiny, which began on June 23. Since then, Wagner’s forces appear to have been absent from the conflict in Ukraine. Under the terms of the deal that reportedly ended the uprising, the bulk of the company’s forces and leadership have reportedly been directed to relocate to Belarus.
On July 19, 2023, a video surfaced purportedly showing Prigozhin addressing Wagner troops in Belarus. During this speech, he states, “Perhaps we will return to the SMO (in reference to the special military operation, a term used to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) at some point when we are sure that we will not be forced to shame ourselves.” This contradicts narratives that the company is preparing for an imminent return.
This video was filmed before the uprising, which ultimately saw Wagner’s leadership and many of its forces relocate to Belarus. As such, it cannot be said to reflect the group's current plans accurately. A recent recording of Prigozhin appears to confirm reports that Wagner is not set to return to the Ukrainian frontlines in the near future. This claim has therefore been marked as false.