Putin Surfaces With Speech on the Coup Attempt, Prigozhin Responds, and Has Anyone Seen Victoria Nuland?

Pavel Bednyakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Nearly twelve hours after Wagner chieftain Yevgeny Prigozhin led his mercenary group into an open revolt against Russia’s ruling clique (see Russia Faces Either a Military Mutiny or Coup D’Etat From Wagner PMC Boss Prigozhin and Fighting Against Leadership Underway in Russia: Wagner Group Seizes Buildings in Rostov, Battles Allegedly Erupt in Voronezh), Russian President Vladimir Putin finally surfaced. A subdued, furtive Putin took to the airwaves Friday night to tell Russians to stay at home and not rally to the Wagner fighters.


I am addressing citizens of Russia, the personnel of the Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies and security services, and the soldiers and commanders who are now fighting in their combat positions, repulsing enemy attacks and doing it heroically – I know this as I spoke once again with the commanders of all sections of the frontline last night. I am also addressing those who were dragged into this criminal adventure through deceit or threats and pushed onto the path of a grave crime – an armed mutiny.

Today, Russia is waging a tough struggle for its future, repelling the aggression of neo-Nazis and their patrons. The entire military, economic and informational machine of the West is directed against us. We are fighting for the lives and security of our people, for our sovereignty and independence, for the right to be and remain Russia, a state with a thousand-year history.

This battle, when the fate of our nation is being decided, requires consolidation of all forces. It requires unity, consolidation and a sense of responsibility, and everything that weakens us, any strife that our external enemies can use and do so to subvert us from within, must be discarded.

Therefore, any actions that split our nation are essentially a betrayal of our people, of our comrades-in-arms who are now fighting at the frontline. This is a knife in the back of our country and our people.

A blow like this was dealt to Russia in 1917, when the country was fighting in World War I. But the victory was stolen from it: intrigues, squabbles and politicking behind the backs of the army and the nation turned into the greatest turmoil, the destruction of the army and the collapse of the state, and the loss of vast territories, ultimately leading to the tragedy of the civil war.

Russians were killing Russians and brothers were killing brothers, while all sorts of political adventurers and foreign forces profited from the situation by tearing the country apart to divide it.

We will not allow this to happen again. We will protect our people and our statehood from any threats, including from internal betrayal.

What we are facing is essentially a betrayal. Inflated ambitions and personal interests have led to treason – treason against our country, our people and the common cause which Wagner Group soldiers and commanders were fighting and dying for shoulder to shoulder, together with our other units and troops. The heroes who liberated Soledar and Artyomovsk, towns and villages in Donbass, fought and gave their lives for Novorossiya and the unity of the Russian world. Their memory and glory have also been betrayed by those who are attempting to stage a revolt and are pushing the country towards anarchy and fratricide – and ultimately, towards defeat and surrender.

Once again, any internal revolt is a deadly threat to our statehood and our nation. It is a blow to Russia, to our people. Our actions to defend the Fatherland from this threat will be harsh. All those who have consciously chosen the path of betrayal, planned an armed mutiny and taken the path of blackmail and terrorism, will inevitably be punished and will answer before the law and our people.

The Armed Forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders. Additional counterterrorism measures are now in effect in Moscow, the Moscow Region and several other regions. Resolute action will also be taken to stabilise the situation in Rostov-on-Don. It remains difficult; in effect, the work of civil and military authorities has been blocked.

As the President of Russia and Supreme Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen of Russia, I will take every effort to defend the country and protect the constitutional order as well as the lives, security and freedom of our citizens.

Those who staged the mutiny and took up arms against their comrades – they have betrayed Russia and will be brought to account. I urge those who are being dragged into this crime not to make a fatal and tragic mistake but make the only right choice: to stop taking part in criminal actions.

I am certain that we will preserve and defend what we hold dear and sacred, and together with our Motherland we will overcome any hardships and become even stronger.


This is an incredible statement from a man who has consciously developed a political persona in which he is not only invincible but embodies the soul, as rotting and twisted as it may be, of the Russian nation.

Here are my takeaways from the speech.

Putin admits Wagner PMC is in open revolt against Russia’s kleptocratic government. He also admits that the revolt has jeopardized the Russian state’s existence. He predicts that this could lead to civil war. This is some pretty powerful stuff.

Putin’s speech throws a sop to the “heroes who liberated Soledar and Artyomovsk,” note he does not mention Bakhmut to try to keep Russian Army units, some of which have reportedly defected to Wagner, from thinking too much about what is going on.

Over the past 16 months, I’ve repeatedly said that Putin’s goal is not reestablishing the USSR with its Potemkin Soviet Socialist Republics. He wants to bring back the Russian Empire of Nicholas II. Note how he put Prigozhin in the role of Lenin in 1917.

In response, Prigozhin released an audio message.

Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president is sorely mistaken. We’re patriots of our motherland. We’ve fought and we’ll continue fighting. All Wagner Group fighters. And none of us is going to turn himself in at the demand of the president, the FSB, or anybody else. Because we don’t want the country to go on living in corruption, deception, and bureaucracy. When we fought in Africa, they told us we need Africa, and then they abandoned it, because they plundered all the money that was supposed to help. When they told us that we were fighting against Ukraine, we went and fought. But it turned out that the ammunition, the weapons, all the money that was allocated for them was also plundered. And the bureaucrats sit there, saving it for themselves, specifically for the day when this happens, when someone marches on Moscow. Now they’re not saving anything — they’re using planes and helicopters to bomb columns where there are civilians. And they’re bombing civilians because they can’t hit their targets. And they’re just hitting whatever they hit. So we’re the patriots, and those who are resisting us are the ones who have gathered around scoundrels.

New Developments

As my colleague Nickarama reported overnight, there is fighting in Voronezh. Prigozhin’s obvious target is Moscow. The red line on the map is Wagner’s route of march so far.

Putin Surfaces With Speech on the Coup Attempt, Prigozhin Responds, and Has Anyone Seen Victoria Nuland?

Wagner is bringing heavy weapons with them. This convoy was videoed somewhere in the yellow highlighted area on the above map.

Wagner convoys have been attacked by Russian aircraft.

And the Russian armed forces, being what they are, haven’t limited their attacks to Wagner fighters.

The military command center and logistic hub at Rostov-on-Don are now in the hands of Wagner. This means that supplies and men can’t reach the front in Ukraine without Wagner letting them through.

Wagner fighters fire on a Ka-52 attack helicopter in Voronezh.


Expedient barricades are being erected in Moscow.

There are reports that both Putin and Medvedev had fled Moscow.

Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov has rallied to Putin and sent his Chechen fighters to Rostov-on-Don. Love his use of the Nazi terminology; his actual quote was “stab in the back,” not the “knife in the back” rendered below.

Russian Ka-52s have attacked the Russian tank farm in Voronezh. This tank farm is the supply source for Russian units in Ukraine. I guess they did it to keep it out of Wagner’s hands.


In Rostov, the civilians seem sympathetic to the Wagner fighters.


The best analog to what we’re seeing in Russia is the mutiny of the French military in Algeria led by the 1er Régiment Etranger de Parachutistes, or 1st Foreign Legion Parachute Regiment, in April 1961. I suspect that Putin, like de Gaulle, will prevail and put down the uprising. I also suspect that elements of this will kick on for some time in the same way the OAS, or Secret Armed Organization, operated for a while after the army mutiny. Just as the Algeria mutiny was followed by disbanding most of the Foreign Legion, I think the era of Russian PMCs is at an end. Whatever convenience and deniability they offered Putin has disappeared.

The impact on the war in Ukraine can’t be understated. As of today, men and supplies can only reach Ukraine by transiting the Kerch Strait bridge. That bridge was cut by the Ukrainians in October and shabbily repaired (Putin’s War, Week 33. Mobilization Muddle, a New Era in Air-to-Air Combat Begins, and Another Lull Before a Storm). No one knows what effect this will have on the Russian Army. There are rumors that Russian generals are afraid to order attacks because they don’t know if their men will obey. Every day that goes by without Wagner being crushed, the danger of the contagion of revolution spreading to the regular Army increases.


Perhaps the biggest lesson to be drawn from this is that the Russian regime is extremely brittle, and all it takes is one rogue actor leaving the scripted play to bring things to a halt. It is really doubtful that Russia has the combat power to stop the Wagner fighters in Voronezh. If they get to Moscow, things will get interesting.

Maybe the Putin bros will take a good long look at this and realize that Vladimir Putin and the Third World sh**hole he rules are not going to save Western Civilization. What’s more, it doesn’t take even Victoria Nuland and any other “neo-con” boogeyman they want to name to set off an “Orange Revolution” in Russia. All it takes is an ex-con caterer and a few thousand men who aren’t invested in the regime and have nothing left to lose.


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