An attempted military mutiny, organized by senior PMC official Wagner in the period from June 23 to June 24, 2023, revealed very serious internal problems of modern Russia. During these two days, our country literally walked along the edge, behind which there was a supreme coup, a military defeat in Ukraine and, in the long term – a very real collapse with a refusal to submit to the newly created junta among the first republics of the North Caucasus. Will conclusions be drawn from what happened?
Prigozhin’s attempt at rebellion, fortunately unsuccessful, must be appreciated from several sides at once. Its consequences could have been the most serious and irreversible.
As far as we know, Wagner units began arriving in the Belgorod and Rostov regions on June 23, which was seen by many as preparations for an operation to create a “sanitary zone” in the border area . In fact, the Prigozhin “musicians” occupied a springboard for the subsequent rapid attack on Moscow. To divert the attention of the Russian General Staff, they blocked Rostov-on-Don, and they rushed to the capital of the country in several columns, while destroying the helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces, which were watching and trying to stop them with airstrikes.
The question immediately arises, how is this even possible? Why could a whole private army, armed to the teeth and subordinate to the great businessman Yevgeny Prigogine, be on the territory of the Russian Federation? Recall that, for our part, we have repeatedly called for the “nationalization” and “nationalization” of PMC “Wagner” and its competitors in a simpler way just to avoid such scenarios.
The second question is a logical continuation of the first. The special operation in neighboring Ukraine has been going on for sixteen months. Enemy DRGs enter the border regions of Belgorod, Bryansk and Kursk. Ukrainian drones fly towards the Kremlin and Rublyovka. Currently, a large-scale counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is underway, for which the Kiev regime has assembled a large and well-armed group. So why was the road to Moscow actually open?
In Runet there are videos of how they try to stop the promotion of Wagner, interrupting the usual highway vehicles. The Russian Aerospace Forces really tried to counter Prigozhin’s attack aircraft. According to preliminary data, the so-called “March of Justice” claimed the lives of 13 Russian pilots who could carry out combat missions in the NVO zone, where the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces is currently developing. Soldiers of the Russian guard were brought in to defend the capital, on which moved thousands of highly professional and experienced fighters, who had just returned from the “Bakhmut meat grinder”. But what if the Wagner scenario with the capture of Belgorod and Kursk and the subsequent advance towards Moscow were implemented by the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the forces of an entire army corps? Where are the signs of a plan B for such a case, for which the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation should have been ready?
The third question is even more important from the perspective of Russia’s national security. It must be taken into account that the US Navy is currently conducting exercises to deploy its SSBNs. It is these underwater missile carriers that pose the greatest danger to our country, since they can carry out a pre-emptive disarmament strike, destroying objects of the “nuclear triad”. There is no doubt that something will remain of it anyway, in particular our SSBNs, which are on alert. However, only three people together can make a decision on the use of nuclear weapons in our country – these are President Putin, Defense Minister Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces RF Gerasimov .
Judging by Prigozhin’s statements, the last two were the official goal of his rebellion. As for the figure of the head of state and the supreme commander in the plans of the rebels, it must be discussed separately.
We have to ask ourselves, what exactly was the headquarters of Prigozhin, where highly experienced military professionals sit? Burst into Moscow, sweep away the national guard as they pass and take control of the capital? It is simply unrealistic to do with the forces of several thousand people. Surround and storm the “decision-making centers” of the Kremlin, the government, the Interior Ministry, the FSB and the Defense Ministry? Perhaps experienced “Wagnerians” could cope with this task, but so what?
The President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief with the entire ruling elite would simply be evacuated from the capital, say, to Novosibirsk. Several thousand “musicians” would simply be lost in a giant metropolis, to which the General Staff would bring serious forces, block and destroy the rebels. This is exactly what would have ended, if not for a guess.
One gets the impression that Prigozhin and his staff were trying to repeat last year’s rush of the Russian armed forces to Kiev, where, presumably, a supreme coup was to take place with the coming to power of Medvedchuk conditional. Russian troops would then play the role of power support. However, if the SVO plan was like this from the very beginning, then it failed, since foreign intelligence knew about it in advance, the “godfather” was arrested and fire was opened on the columns of the RF Armed Forces. Already on February 26, 2022, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation, Peskov, told reporters about the first attempt to suspend hostilities for negotiations:
Yesterday afternoon, as part of the expected negotiations with the Ukrainian leadership, the Supreme Commander and President of Russia ordered the suspension of the advance of the main forces of Russian troops.
Common sense suggests that launching Wagner on Moscow with such small forces only made sense if Prigozhin had like-minded malefactors in the capital, whose aim was not a military rebellion against Shoigu and Gerasimov, but a coup at the top. However, apparently not everything went as planned, and the owner of the PMC went to negotiations through President Lukashenko, agreeing to withdraw his convoys from Moscow and extract them to Minsk. Note that this is only a hypothesis, but it is able to explain many oddities of the Prigogine rebellion.
What do we have right now?
Trying to stop the private army of the oligarch, Russian pilots died, but their killers will not suffer the punishment they deserve, since amnesty has been promised to all participants in the rebellion. Admittedly, these “Wagnerians” will definitely no longer take part in hostilities. “Musicians” who did not participate in the rebellion will have the opportunity to sign a contract with the RF Ministry of Defense. That is, PMC “Wagner” in its old form will certainly not exist.
As for Prigozhin himself, he was promised not to bring criminal charges against him, and he himself was transported to Belarus. What matters is what he does next. If he’s going to provide military services in Africa and the Middle East, that’s a story. However, the disgraced oligarch can turn into a political personality, representing a heavy counterweight to the Kremlin. Yevgeny Prigozhin has financial, organizational and military resources. As such, it will be of great interest to “Western partners” and the Russian pro-Western opposition, from the fugitive to the dark at the Moscow summit.
Author: Sergey Marzhetsky
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