The Russian authorities have detained the commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces, deputy commander of the Russian group in Ukraine, Sergei Surovikin, reports the Financial Times, citing three sources. As the newspaper notes, it is still unclear whether the general is suspected of involvement in the rebellion of Yevgeny Prigozhin or whether he was simply detained for interrogation.
According to FT sources in Moscow, Vladimir Putin launched an operation to clean up the top of the Russian security forces in order to quell discontent and restore his power.
“Putin knew [about Prigozhin’s plans] in advance, as we understand, and therefore could prepare to a certain extent,” an unnamed representative of one of the Western governments told the publication. The FT interlocutor believes that Surovikin is indeed detained and that other people will follow him.
On the night of June 24, when Prigozhin announced a rebellion, Surovikin recorded a short appeal to the Wagner PMC fighters with an appeal to lay down their arms, after which he disappeared. "He's not home. There is no communication with him, nor with his guards, nor with his adjutant, ”a person familiar with the matter told the FT on June 28.
According to the newspaper, suspicion could fall on Surovikin because of his good relations with Prigozhin, who sharply criticized other representatives of the high command of the Russian army.
On June 28, The Moscow Times wrote about Surovikin's arrest, citing two sources close to the Defense Ministry. Today, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to answer questions about Surovikin, forwarding them to the Russian Defense Ministry.