As I write these words, as far as I know, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner Group, a Russian "private military company", is in what appears to be exile in Belarus, following his leadership of a "rebellion" by Wagner against Russia. Whether it was a "rebellion", or a "demonstration", or a "popular uprising", is impossible to clarify at this point. There's a huge amount of smoke, and very little clear view of the fire(s) causing it.
The important point to remember is an old saying in the intelligence community:
Those who are talking, don't know.
That's the bottom line right now. There are innumerable "talking heads" on TV news broadcasts who are doing nothing more than offering a quasi-edumacated guesstimate as to what happened, what's going on now, and what may happen in future. Nobody knows for sure.
That's been the case throughout the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Neither side is honest or trustworthy; both sides are as corrupt as hell; and no "news" from either side is believable. Blatantly partisan propaganda is universal; honesty much less so. I agree, Russia was/is the aggressor, violating several treaties in the process, and therefore deserves to lose, but that doesn't mean Ukraine is as white as the driven snow, either. It was ranked as the second most corrupt state in Europe a few years ago. Only after the Russian invasion were serious attempts made to "whitewash" Ukraine's endemic corruption. Its government is no more honest and upright than Russia's. Those who bleat about "Slava Ukraini!" might ask themselves what they're glorifying, and whether it's worth it.
(At the outbreak of this war, I asked what was the United States' compelling national security interest in Ukraine. Nobody has yet answered that question comprehensively, except from their own biased, blinkered perspectives. Perhaps we need to do so on a national level, one that can be supported by all Americans, before we get dragged even deeper into the mire over there.)
As for Wagner, it's become a byword for thuggishness and brutality in many countries. To name just one example, its mercenaries are currently all but running the country of Mali in West Africa, where an ongoing struggle against Islamic fundamentalist terrorists has led to a military coup and the departure of Western forces in protest against institutionalized corruption there. That hasn't stopped Wagner: in fact, it's probably made it easier for it to operate there, and in other African countries, where its record is no less brutal. Russian "military forces" in other nations (including Syria) are largely comprised of Wagner units, which have made it easier for Russia to withdraw more orthodox military forces to deploy them against Ukraine. What will happen in those countries after Wagner's "revolt" is unknown, but I doubt the situation can continue as before. I don't think Russia can spare enough competent troops and units to replace Wagner, given the scale of the conflict in Ukraine, so it may be we'll see Russian influence wane in several parts of the world as its forces are withdrawn. Will Wagner cooperate, or will its local forces behave even more thuggishly and install themselves semi-permanently as local warlords? I'd say that's more than a faint possibility - but I don't know. Nobody does.
If I had to prognosticate about likely developments in the near future, I'd say Prigozhin has effectively committed suicide. His "exile" in Belarus doesn't stop him controlling his forces elsewhere. Sure, Russia has said that Wagner units will be sworn into the national army as regular forces, but how many of them will be willing to accept that? What about those beyond Russia's borders - will they prefer to stay there as freebooters and mercenaries? From their perspective, that might be an attractive option, and they might offer Prigozhin an opportunity to rebuild his organization internationally, to Russia's detriment. Given all those factors, I suspect Prigozhin will encounter a 9mm. headache within a few weeks to a few months, or suffer a convenient "heart attack", or be the victim of an unfortunate auto or aircraft accident, or try to learn to fly (unsuccessfully) from the upper windows or roof of a suitably tall building. If he doesn't experience something like that, I'll be very surprised.
There's a brief window of opportunity for Ukraine to capitalize on the confusion in Russia, but it's very brief. Wagner's occupation of Rostov-on-Don (the military and logistics headquarters of Russia's campaign against Ukraine) must inevitably have disrupted command and control structures, logistics arrangements, etc (the latter further complicated by Ukrainian attacks on a major resupply route). If Ukraine can burst through the front lines at points where Wagner units were withdrawn (or withdrew themselves), it has a brief window to exploit those breakdowns and make serious territorial gains before Russia can reorganize its forces. Whether or not Ukraine's armed forces are in any condition to do so is unknown, and probably unknowable to outside observers right now. They don't appear to have been making much headway with their offensive against the Russians. Can that change under the present circumstances? Maybe . . . but I wouldn't hold your breath while waiting.
Finally, if this "revolt" was as serious as some are saying it was, it may have weakened Putin's position as Russia's warlord. He's apparently (or so it seems) let Prigozhin get away scot-free with his rebellion (at least in the short term). That might be taken by his internal rivals as a sign of weakness, indecisiveness, a lack of ability to respond forcefully and crush the rebellion rather than negotiate it away. They'll be watching carefully. Some of them may begin to think that it's time for a change of leadership. Putin, of course, being an old KGB hand, will be well aware of that, and I daresay he'll have hit men and "direct action teams" standing by to remove any overly aggressive challenger . . . but those same hit men and teams might get a better offer from some of his rivals. There's going to be a lot of tension in Moscow over the next few days and weeks. Pass the popcorn.
However, in the end, nobody knows anything for sure. The smoke is so thick one mostly can't see through it, and when one can, there are enough Potemkin villages in the area to confuse and mislead the most acute observer. All we can be sure of is that somewhere under all that smoke, there's a fire. What's burning? We'll find out when the smoke clears - if there's anything left to see after the flames have done their work.
EDITED TO ADD: Peter Zeihan offers his thoughts on what may happen next. His first three videos on the subject, over the weekend, were speculation, as is this one: but the last (below) may be better informed and therefore closer to reality.