Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s declaration of war against the Russian Defense Ministry has sparked a storm of jokes on social media about a looming “Russian Civil War.”
Prigozhin has repeatedly been critical of the Russian leadership, while his private mercenaries have played their own role in the invasion of Ukraine, and the rift appears to have reached breaking point. On Friday, Prigozhin accused the Russian army of attacking Wagner’s positions with missiles and declared war on his former ally on the battlefield.
“We are 25,000 strong and we are going to find out why the chaos is happening in Russia,” Prigozhin wrote on Telegram. “Everyone else is free to join us.”
The news has yet to elicit a direct response from Russian President Vladimir Putin, but Twitter users were quick to spread the word of an upcoming “civil war” in Russia, with several celebrating the news with a meme.
“Honey, wake up, the Russian civil war is starting,” read a meme posted by a political columnist. Manolis Giannarakis.
Iuliia Mendel, spokeswoman for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, published a video of what appears to be the Ukrainian president in an old advert grabbing a bottle of beer and a bowl of chips to watch TV.
“Ukrainians tonight,” Mendel quipped.
Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul answered to Mendel’s post, “Some Americans Too!”
Other users posted memes or jokes in response to a cheep of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, who wrote on Friday night: “We are watching.”
It is not clear if the ministry post was referring to Prigozhin’s declaration of war, but several users inferred that the two instances were connected. an user posted a screenshot below the tweet of a college football fan holding a sign that read: “I just hope both teams have fun.”
another user, Anna Komsahe responded with a meme taken from the 2021 movie, Dune. In the photo, one character, who is marked with a NATO flag, says to the other: “Smile, Poland, the Russians are killing each other.”
“I’m smiling,” replies the other character, marked by a Polish flag.
news week has contacted Zelensky’s press office by email for comment.
On Friday, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement to the Russian state news site TASS that Prigozhin’s statements “are in fact calls for the start of an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation” and announced that a criminal case had been opened against him.
The FSB also said Prigozhin’s claims about the Russian Defense Ministry’s attack on Wagner’s troops were “false” and called on private fighters to reject their leader’s orders.
“We call [Wagner Group] fighters not to make irreparable mistakes, to stop any violent actions against the Russian people, not to carry out Prigozhin’s criminal and treacherous orders, and to take measures to stop him,” the FSB said.