A leading Russian army official known as General Armageddon has been missing since the Wagner Group‘s mutiny in late June.
General Sergei Surovikin, who rose to fame because of his aggressive tactics in Syria and Chechnya, was allegedly placed under “house arrests” after expressing support for Evgeny Prigozhin’s attempted coup earlier in the summer.
Surovikin’s last confirmed appearance was in a video in which he urged Prigozhin’s men to stand down.
The general was known to have a good relationship with the Wagner chief and US intelligence later suggested he had earlier knowledge of his intentions.
The former ally of Vladimir Putin played a pivotal role in the invasion of Ukraine as the mastermind behind the so-called Surovikin Line, a collective of defensive lines aimed at hindering Ukraine‘s efforts to advance into occupied territory.
For all the latest on news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to Daily Express US
A senior Russian official claimed last month that Surovikin had been “resting” after initial questions began to be raised about his whereabouts.
But the Telegram channel VChK-OGPU this week claimed the general was “under a kind of house arrest” while Putin considered potential punishments.
The channel moderator claimed Surovikin “cannot leave his home” and was subjected to “uncomfortable questions” despite the lack of an official investigation into his conduct.
The report also alleged that the general’s family had been urged to avoid the spotlight to ensure Surovikin is “forgotten” by Putin.
The Russian general’s fate “must be [decided] by one person and the longer this takes, the more this person will cool down”, according to the moderator.
Days after the mutiny, reports began to emerge suggesting Surovikin had been arrested because of his closeness to Prigozhin and for allegedly supporting the mutiny.
War blogger Vladimir Romanov also claimed he had been arrested on June 25 – the day after the Wagner chief stood down his men.
Russian officials have so far not confirmed Surovkin’s arrest and have refused to comment on where he is currently located.
Following the attempted coup, Putin effectively banished Prigozhin to Belarus but the mercenary leader has since been spotted again in Russia.
His men had been ordered to also set up base in Belarus if not actively engaged in Ukraine but reports emerged last week suggesting Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko had ordered them back across the border.
Countries bordering Belarus have increased border security since thousands of Wagner fighters arrived in Russian-allied Belarus under his deal with Prigozhin.
In recent days, Poland has been deploying thousands of troops to its border with Belarus, calling it a deterrent move as tensions between the two neighbors ratchet up.
And Lithuania on Wednesday decided to temporarily close two of its six checkpoints with Belarus amid growing tensions with its eastern neighbour.
“The main goal is to temporarily suspend operations at these two points from August 18,” deputy minister of transport Agnė Vaiciukeviciūte said, adding that the move offered the possibility of directing officers performing border control checks to other points.
Lithuania, a Baltic nation that declared its independence from the Soviet Union 33 years ago, is a democracy that belongs to NATO and the European Union.