Russian Coup Update: It Ends With a Whimper as Prigozhin Goes Into Exile but Will Anything Ever Be the Same?

(AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, Pool, File)

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry “Porn ‘Stache” Peskov, has announced the outline of a deal to end the coup d’etat by Wagner Group PMC boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. According to Peskov, all charges pending against Prigozhin will be dropped, and Prigozhin will take up residence in Belarus. No word if “taking up residence in Belarus” is like sending your old dog to a “farm in the country.” The Wagner fighters who did not take part in the rebellion will be offered contracts to serve as soldiers in the regular Russian Army. Those men who participated in the revolt will be given pardons and, I’m just guessing about this, discharged from the Army.


For about a day, the world had been held spellbound as Prigozhin’s mercenaries declared war on the Russian Defense Ministry. See  Russia Faces Either a Military Mutiny or Coup D’Etat From Wagner PMC Boss Prigozhin, Fighting Against Leadership Underway in Russia: Wagner Group Seizes Buildings in Rostov, Battles Allegedly Erupt in Voronezh and Putin Surfaces With Speech on the Coup Attempt, Prigozhin Responds, and Has Anyone Seen Victoria Nuland? They took control of the city of Rostov-on-Don, and Prigozhin occupied the headquarters of the Southern Military District. As Prigozhin left the building, a crowd formed and began shouting their support for the attempted coup.

Wagner Group moved heavy equipment and tanks from Rostov and stopped on Prigozhin’s orders inside the boundaries of Moscow Oblast (see Russian Coup Shocker: PMC Wagner Leader Suddenly Calls off March to Moscow).

Along the way, they shot down five Russian attack helicopters and one reconnaissance aircraft and took possession of government offices in Voronezh as well as control of a nuclear weapons storage facility (Russian Coup Update: Wagner Enters Moscow Oblast and Calls Troops Home from Africa and a New Nuclear Power is Born).

Just as mysterious as Wagner’s halt on its way to Moscow is Peskov thanking Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko for his mediation.



What Happened?

The answer to how June 23-24 happened and what it means will plague historians, political scientists, and conspiracy mongers for years to come.

What seems obvious is that despite the protestations of the most rabid Putin bros, this was real. This next bullsh** is from an account called @WarClandestine on Twitter and is becoming a common argument pushed by the Putin-is-a-strategic-genius crowd.

Lemme get this straight. Prigozhin, who is fully funded by the Russian Government, is close with Putin, and engaged in disinformation psyops like “no ammo in Bakhmut”; says crazy shit again, and the [Ukrainian flag] folks didn’t even consider the possibility it was Russian disinformation?  There was no civil war. There were zero casualties. It was just Prigozhin being batshit crazy like he always is, and right back to the frontlines after his outburst. What do I think? I think Prigozhin is working with Putin as usual to accomplish any number of goals. What did Putin gain? The disguise of the movement of mass quantities of his troops, the appearance of being weak to bait Ukraine to attack (they did and lost outside Artyomovsk), and he weeded out any traitors who may have tried to join with Prigozhin. What did Putin ultimately lose? Nothing. There was no civil war. No civilians in danger. And now the country and the public are galvanized around him. Now the NAFO turds will be on to the next thing and right back to hating Prigozhin and Wagner. They will forget that they briefly worshipped the man who took their beloved Bakhmut from them. Just like they did with Belgorod, this turned out to not be the end of Russia, despite the [Ukrainian flag] accounts being certain of it. As I said before, the only place this was a civil war, was on the Internet. And you just witnessed who is a reliable source, and who is not. Who reports on verifiable information, and those who report on wild speculation.


This may make sense if you are huffing glue and using PCP suppositories; otherwise, not so much. Prigozhin was not “being batsh** crazy as usual.” He took over two Russian cities, including the headquarters of the Southern Military District that controls the fighting in Ukraine. Units of the Russian Army rallied to his banner. There weren’t “zero casualties.” Wagner shot down at least six Russian aircraft. Traitors weren’t weeded out; they were given amnesty. Trigger-happy security forces killed civilians. No one “worshipped” Prigozhin. Everyone knows who and what he is. That said, setting off a coup attempt against your main adversary is useful. As Churchill said, “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

Because it was real, the one certainty is that Putin comes out of this weaker. A rank outsider nearly pulled off a successful coup d’etat. The whole episode played out on Russian-language social media and can’t be covered up. If this was disinformation, it was not aimed at the West; it was aimed at the Russian people. Nothing in this episode made Putin stronger domestically.


Nothing made the Russian Army or security forces seem more competent or even loyal to the regime.

In other centers of power in Moscow, people are looking at one another, thinking they may do the same thing.

What is really interesting is the number of people who have suddenly discovered that Putin is a “moderate” and are encouraging us to support him.

This is just lunacy on its face. Moderates don’t dispatch hit men to use nerve agents to kill dissidents in foreign countries. Moderates don’t invade nations without good cause. Moderates don’t allow their army to engage in unrestrained rape, murder, and robbery. Moderates don’t deport civilians, separate children from their families, and place them in adoptive homes. I’m sure there are crazier people than Putin in line for the prize, but what is missing is someone putting a name to any of these wild men. Putin is a moderate in the same sense as Muammar Qaddafi, Pol Pot, and Kim Jong Un.


There are rumors that the removal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov may be part of the deal. We’ll know more about that in the next couple of weeks. If Putin did make such a deal, it underscores his weak position as the Wagner Group was marching on Moscow.

The coup attempt revealed deep fractures within Russian security forces. Some Russian Army units threw their lot in with Prigozhin. More units stood aside and refused to get involved. The deputy chief of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, said Prigozhin was welcome to take Shoigu and Gerasimov away.

There are rumors that Wagner Group will still exist but with a focus only on Africa. It is hard to see how this works for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the billions of dollars of mineral wealth that Wagner extracts from Africa each year would be lost to the Kremlin.

This will not be an event that Putin can use to galvanize support for more militarization and more sacrifice. He made a deal with a man he called a traitor. Part of his army abandoned him. A lot of people in areas taken over by Wagner were openly supportive.

The full impact of these two days has yet to be felt.


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