Well, then. The Apocalypse has been rescheduled.
As we reported previously, on June 23, troops of the Wagner “Private Military Company” (PMC) – at the orders of their leader, hot dog vendor-turned mercenary warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin – apparently abandoned their positions in southern Ukraine in an apparent mutiny; there were scattered reports of regular Russian Army units engaging in firefights with the mercenary troops, many (if not most) of whom have been recruited directly from prisons.
As the hours wore on, more reports came in: Wagner troops captured the city of Rostov-On-Don, Russia’s primary regional headquarters tactically controlling the ongoing battles in the breakaway Ukrainian regions of Luhansk and Donbas; there were reports of army commanders “defecting” to Wagner; there were reports of scattered attacks by the Russian Air Force on columns of Wagner troops advancing north along the M4 highway, eventually reaching the critical junction of the city of Voronezh, in an apparent bid to storm the Russian capital city of Moscow, with attendant reports of loyalist forces frantically fortifying sections of the city, as well as mutinies at some military bases around the capital. Russian leader Vladimir Putin was reported to have fled the capital as did, apparently, many of the business “oligarchs” who control the Russian economy, leading to many Western governments and sophomoric, desperate-for-news pundits to chortle at Putin’s seeming demise…
…And then – it was over.
Late on June 24, the story suddenly flipped: Alexander Lukashenko, long-time dictator of the nation of Belarus and a staunch Putin ally, apparently negotiated an agreement between Putin and Prigozhin that saw the mercenary leader “exiled” to Belarus, in trade for ordering his prison-mercs to reverse course, and return to their original cantonments on the front lines of Southern Ukraine.
The world – and especially Western intelligence services – were dumbfounded…ourselves, included.
After careful analysis, the staff at FreedomistMIA has reached a general conclusion as to what we think has happened.
As we remarked in our article from June 23, our second point of analysis was the possibility that Prigozhin had actually launched his “putsch” at the direct order of Putin, in a bid to strengthen Putin’s position inside Russia. While we considered this to be unlikely at that time, that is what now seems to be the case.
At issue, firstly, was Prigozhin’s demonstrated fanatical loyalty to Putin (who had made Prigozhin his personal chef at one point, and then made him the head of the already-established Wagner PMC). Second, were Prigozhin’s, frankly bizarre and inconsistent (bordering on the incoherent) statements on various social media platforms, ranting (not too strong of a term) about the Russian Ministry of Defence not simply hamstringing his forces by deliberately denying them supplies and other critical combat support, but of actively bombarding them, in their forward bases, killing large numbers of the mercenaries…none of which made any sense, at all.
In response, Putin addressed the Russian nation and the world early on the 24th (US time), calling Prigozhin and any Wagner troops supporting him rebels and traitors, and calling on the Wagner mercenaries to detain Prigozhin and/or return to the Ukrainian front. Shortly after that address, Lukashenko “brokered” an end to the “fighting”.
So…where does this leave us, as of the afternoon (US time) on June 26?
The putsch is over. Wagner forces are returning to southern Ukraine. Prigozhin’s whereabouts are unclear. What has the result been, overall?
- First, Putin’s hold on power – despite the desperate ravings of certain sections of the popular media – has been greatly strengthened: the abortive putsch saw many anti-Putin oligarchs and lower-level military commanders and officials either ‘sit pat’, or actively try to ingratiate themselves to Prigozhin. Where their loyalties to the Putin regime may have been questionable before the putsch, their stances are now out in the open, for all to see.
- Second, there has apparently been no significant disruption in the logistical throughput passing through Rostov-On-Don, meaning that the Russian and mercenary forces on that front have suffered no real interruption to the flow of personnel, supplies, or equipment. Likewise, tactically speaking, there has been no opportunity for Ukraine to exploit “disruptions” in Russian ranks.
- Third, is the interplay between Russia, Belarus and Wagner. With Prigozhin “exiled” to Belarus – to date, a ‘silent partner’ to Russia, allowing significant Russian forces to be based in their country – there is the significant possibility that Progozhin will take many of his Wagner troops with him (the idea of Russia allowing all Wagner troops to go to Belarus is a non-starter, as the mercenaries are too vital as shock troops). Those troops, likely under a different corporate name, would both strengthen the Russian units now in Belarus, while also providing vital training services for Belarusian forces, who have no combat experience to speak of. This could be enhanced, due to reports during the “not-a-putsch”, of Wagner units opening prisons, arming the freed inmates and adding them to their forces, something Wagner has done in the past, with official sanction. Where Wagner was suspected to have fielded approximately 50,000 troops worldwide, with some 25,000 fighting in Ukraine, that figure may have been significantly increased.
Overall, it would appear that Putin has staged a solid deception operation that has measurably strengthened his power base, added forces to his army prosecuting his war in Ukraine, and greatly shored up a close ally, an ally which may well need a “loyal” force of battle-hardened mercenaries to secure his regime, as Lukashenko is reportedly in ill health.
As a result, the world collectively has a lot of egg on its face, to Putin’s benefit.
And that, as it lowers the Western public’s opinions of their governments and news media in general, bodes ill.