Head of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, seems to be maneuvering in ways that suggest ambition in the political realm. Prigozhin recently has criticized the Russian Army for being incapable of completing the goals outlined by President. Putin and has suggested they are intentionally starving his men of supplies.
Criticism of the Army by Prigozhin has a clear avoidance of harshness towards Putin and seems to highlight that interests may lie in taking up a larger role in Russian Society. Focusing more on the home front, Wagner announced 42 recruitment offices would soon open across Russian cities. Financing Wagner troops and generating revenue for ambitious growth has been curried among Russian businessmen and politicians suggesting a key interest by Wagner to move further into an advantageous position able to lobby Russian citizens.
Closer ties between Wagner, businesses, and politicians, may suggest that Wagner wishes to situate itself for a long-war, and analysts predict that Wagner’s transformation could lead to a political movement regarding support for the war effort. Wagner’s successes over regular military operations makes Prigozhin look valuable to the Kremlin. Boasting and instigation through challenges on the regular Russian forces seems to be of posturing and self-aggrandizement. Putin has thus far ignored such actions mainly because of Wagner's successes in Bakmut.
With the end of the grind to take Bakmut, will Wagner drawdown? Statements made by Wagner seem to suggest that once Bakmut is taken, the next step would be to reduce and recoup, allowing the regular militaries to fill in afterwards. Mobilizing troops and painting the war as, “just,” will be a necessity for Putin if the war turns into a sustained conflict with no end in the near future. Prigozhin, may be the figure Putin wishes to use as his pawn, and his life may rest on the laurels of Wagner’s battle victories.