… This is exactly the kind of blow that was dealt to Russia in 1917, when the country fought in the First World War. But victory was stolen from her. Intrigues, squabbles, politicking behind the backs of the army and the people resulted in the greatest of shocks, the destruction of the army, the collapse of the state, and the loss of vast territories. And in the end, in the tragedy of the civil war…
Keep in mind, among the many, many things Wagner is now, a cult is one of them. Prigozhin is “batya,” the MoD troops are poor saps with no money or glory. An FSB/military order to kill Prigozhin, which is what Putin is implying here, will not be met with quiet resignation.
Also keep this closely tethered: Prigo said at the outset there was no reason for the war in Ukraine (like the Pope doubting the existence of God) and that Russian losses are huge and being covered up. Putin isn’t the only one selling a “stab in the back” premise here.
International policy experts have provided some analysis amid the armed rebellion by the Wagner mercenary group.
James Nixey, Director, Russia and Eurasia Programme, at Chatham House: “Prigozhin may find some support in the Russian military (especially considering the ease with which he took Rostov), but he has none in Moscow, among the elite. He’s not Russia’s next president. Meanwhile, Moscow’s defences are bracing themselves. But the rump of the military that does remain loyal will try to soften up Wagner as it approaches.
“Putin’s speech clearly showed he was rattled. He did not look confident and he did not reassure. After 24 years, this is the first direct challenge to his authority – even if both protagonists are not calling each other by name. That said, Putin still has more in the tank (excuse pun). He’s spent 14-odd years protecting Russia from a colour revolution. But he was probably right about one thing: ‘Russia’s future is at stake’.”
Samantha de Bendern, Associate Fellow, in Chatham’s House Russia and Eurasia Programme: “Rostov is the most important military logistical hub for the Russian armed forces fighting in Ukraine. And yet there were not enough Russian military able or willing to stop Prigozhin take over the local military HQ.
“A heavily armed Prigozhin then sat down to drink tea with an unarmed deputy defense minister and the deputy head of military intelligence, and moralized them like an angry school teacher. This is so surreal that any deep analysis is difficult at this point but the first round seems to have gone to Prigozhin.”
I think this goes without saying but Wagner is not your ally even if they want to topple Putin/MoD. The best case scenario is they start killing each other, it goes completely out of hand and Ukrainians take back what’s theirs as quickly as possible.
“The whole of April and May, Prigozhin lied about the alleged ‘projectile famine,’ the 1st and 7th Assault Squads have a huge stockpile of MANPADS and captured Javelins. A source from Prigozhin’s security service said that preparations for this scenario took more than 2 months”
A Russian Air Force Ka-52 “Alligator” Attack Helicopter is now known to be Responsible for Bombing the Oil Refinery and Depot in the City of Voronezh indicating that this was likely done to prevent its Capture by Wagner PMC Forces which are Advancing on the City from the South.
Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous; and if one holds his state based on these arms, he will stand neither firm nor safe; for they are disunited, ambitious and without discipline, unfaithful, valiant before friends, cowardly before enemies; they have neither the fear of God nor fidelity to men, and destruction is deferred only so long as the attack is; for in peace one is robbed by them, and in war by the enemy. The fact is, they have no other attraction or reason for keeping the field than a trifle of stipend, which is not sufficient to make them willing to die for you.