Russia Faces Either a Military Mutiny or Coup D'Etat From Wagner PMC Boss Prigozhin

Wagner Chieftain Yevgeny Prigozhin reads the riot act to the Russian military establishment. CREDIT: Twitter

Earlier on Friday, Wagner Group PMC chieftain Yevgeny Prigozhin accused Russian Defense Minister Sergei “the Plywood Marshall” Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov of deliberately sabotaging the Russian war effort. Prigozhin referred a criminal complaint to the Investigative Committee of Russia, demanding on his Telegram channel that Shoigu and Gerasimov “must be held responsible for the genocide of the Russian people, the murder of tens of thousands of Russian citizens and the transfer of Russian territories to the enemy. Moreover, the transfer is deliberate, just like the murder of Russian citizens and genocide. Shoigu has a genocide on a national basis.” He released an audio recording:

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“PMC Wagner Commanders’ Council made a decision: the evil brought by the military leadership of the country must be stopped. They neglect the lives of soldiers. They forgot the word “justice”, and we will bring it back. Those, who destroyed today our guys, who destroyed tens, tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers will be punished. I’m asking: no one resist. Everyone who will try to resist, we will consider them a danger and destroy them immediately, including any checkpoints on our way. And any aviation that we see above our heads. I’m asking everyone to remain calm, do not succumb to provocations, and remain in their houses. Ideally, those along our way, do not go outside. After we finished what we started, we will return to the frontline to protect our motherland. Presidential authority, Government, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rosgvardia, and other departments will continue operating as before. We will deal with those who destroy Russian soldiers. And we will return to the frontline. Justice in the Army will be restored. And after this, justice for the whole of Russia.”

Shortly afterward, Prigozhin accused the Russian military of attacking one of his training camps in Ukraine.

Prigozhin’s relationship with the Russian high command has been volatile for some time. He’s accused the Russian Army of killing his men by depriving them of artillery support, insulted Shoigu and Gerasimov repeatedly, and pulled his troops out of combat in Bakhmut.

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In the meantime, Russia’s SSO, their strategic special operations force unit, has occupied the Russian Defense Ministry. At this juncture, no one is sure what they are doing there.

The FSB and SOBR have established roadblocks on the Moscow-Voronezh-Rostov-on-Don road. It is suspected that if Prigozhin has made a move to take over the government, these forces would be his allies.

Russian television channels have been hacked, playing Prigozhin’s call to arms. And Prigozhin has publicly urged Rosgvardiya to come to his aid.

Other standard coup behaviors were also present.

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There are reports of Russian Army units and Wagner fighters engaging in firefights, and of some Russian Army units rallying to Wagner’s cause.

A rattled and somewhat inebriated former commander of Russian troops in Ukraine, Sergey Surovkin (see Putin’s War, Week 46. Putin Shakes up the Army Command, Prigozhin Shows How It’s Done, and Western Tanks for Ukraine Are on the Way) appeared in a video appeal asking soldiers to return to their barracks.

Only minutes ago, Prigozhin announced his forces were entering Belgorod and intended to take control of Rostov-on-Don.

Curiously, no one has come to Wagner’s St. Petersburg high rise, even though he is rumored to be there.

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Whatever is going on, it is not fake. Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry “Porn ‘Stache” Peskov, has acknowledged the goings-on.

TASS and RIA Novosti reported that the Russian security services have started a mutiny investigation of Prigozhin.

If this drama were being carried out in English with no mention in Russia, I’d be tempted to say it was some kind of hoax. But it is playing out on Russian Telegram channels and in Russian state media, and major power players are involved. In this case, Prigozhin has said that the “special military operation” in Ukraine is unjustified and “based on lies.”

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I’d be the last person to claim that I have insights into what is going on with Prigozhin and the Russian military. Whatever it is, I think it is safe to say that it is not aiding military operations in Ukraine or building public support in Russia.

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