Yevgeny Prigozhin — a good example of what, exactly?

© 2023 Peter Free


26 June 2023



Without being inside . . .


. . .we are unlikely to understand what really happened with Yevgeny Prigozhin's alleged Russian coup attempt.


Consider the purported insurrection's sheer ridiculousness.


Prigozhin is a non-military guy. He served as oligarch status spokesman-promoter for Russia's Wagner Group.


In that role, Prigozhin recently announced that he was going to drive a comparatively small Wagner Group convoy roughly 1100 kilometers from Rostov-on-Don to Moscow.


This occurring, evidently, so as to kick someone's high-ranking ass in retaliation for an allegedly having officially sanctioned a recent attack on Wagner Group forces.


Prigozhin's supposed 'rebellion' was notably without:



air cover


sophisticated communications


real-time intelligence


stand-off defense(s)


and even


notable amounts of fuel and ammunition.



And astonishingly (from a strategic perspective) Prigozhin was even without the support of most Wagner Group troops and (reportedly) all of its military officers.


How Prigozhin thought he was going to make anything large-scale work with those scant resources, beats me.


Indeed, it might (arguably) make more sense to hypothesize that Prigozhin's actions did not a constitute a coup attempt at all.


But if not a coup, what?


(My own assessment is that Prigozhin is, most likely, an emotionally volatile, narcissistic blowhard who exhibits excessive ambition. And is, therefore, just reckless enough to make a dangerously stupid military bureaucracy modification attempt. Arguably well short of a coup, but easily enough confused with one.)



Consider Prigozhin's curiously non-existent logistics


Recall that, in the recent past, Prigozhin publicly ranted against Chief of the General Staff — General Valery Garasimov — and Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu for failing to properly supply the Wagner Group with ammunition and weapons, during the Battle of Bakhmut.


One naturally wonders how this same arms-supply problem was going to happily heal itself, while Prigozhin was enroute to Moscow, with the implicitly announced intention of doing bad things to the armaments-supplying Shoigu and Garasimov.


Were Shoighu and Gerasimov, nevertheless, going to provide Progozhin's mutineers with the ammunition and arms necessary to kill the Defense Ministry, as well as the Russian state?


That seems an odd calculation of Prigozhin's part:



Could Madman Prigozhin really be that logistically, tactically and systemically idiotic?


Did Prigozhin's self-evident narcissism really go so far as to think that — in the absence of receiving notable coup-directed help from Russia's power centers — he could, nevertheless, overturn Russia's government?



There are other hypotheses


Assess, for instance, Larry Johnson's stab at the possibility that Prigozhin's coup attempt actually represented Russia's pre-planned, anti-NATO trickery:



Putin and his intel chiefs knew what the West was trying to foment in Russia and realized that Ukraine and NATO were reeling from their feckless counter offensive and its attendant massive losses in men and materiel.


Why not use the coup attempt as a good cover story for the mass movement of troops all along the line between Moscow and Rostov on Don?


This is a way to move Russian troops to areas north of Belgorod without drawing the unwelcome attention of NATO ISR platforms.


Move the troops closer to the border and then disperse them.


Which means Russia found a way to reinforce troops on a new potential axis of [Ukraine] attack that will create a nightmare for NATO planners.


© 2023 Larry Johnson, Russia's Academy Award winning performance for best coup, Prigozhin scores best actor, (24 June 2023)



Whether real or enacted . . .


. . . President Putin called this small segment of the Wagner Group, treasonous. And the Russian Federation, predictably, rallied to him.


Within roughly one day, quiet was restored.



With Prigozhin, presumably, being ferried off to Belarus's volunteered safekeeping.


And the mutinous portion of the Wagner Group being stripped of their military associations with the Group.


Leaving, of course, the much larger body of Wagner loyalists intact and still useful to the Russian Federation.



From one perspective . . .


. . . this quickly achieved, bloodless (for the most part) outcome was a sign of Putin-Russia's strength and efficiency.


See, for instance:



Alexander Mercouris, Prigozhin Uprise Collapses, Putin in Control, Prigozhin Agrees to Exile in Belarus, Wagner Under MoD, YouTube (25 June 2023)



On the other hand . . .


. . . an outsider would suspect that Russia might have lost more than it gained, during this (acted-or-not) episode.


A coup, the West gleefully said, was in progress. And elements among the US Establishment enthusiastically announced Putin's anticipated end.


Seeing neocons' glee, we can safely predict that they will be further emboldened in continuing to kill off the last Ukrainians in our proxy-driven attempt to weaken Russia.


In that miserable light, Putin's regime can be criticized for letting Prigozhin get so obviously out of control in the first place. Prigozhin even going so far as to say that Russia was losing the war. Thereby, doing a pretty good imitation of the constantly lying Ukrainian and Western media. In itself, given Prigozhin's prominence, a traitorous move.


More broadly, I question what sense there is in allowing a private army to operate inside Russia, no matter how useful it is. Talk about having voluntarily created a competing center of political and military gravity.


Presumably, like the French Foreign Legion, the Wagner Group had been established to operate outside Russia.



Thus, overall


I fail to see how the Prigozhin Affair (whatever that actually turns out to have been) becomes a win for Russia.



The moral? — Whose ass has been bitten remains to be seen


Perhaps we will never know.


With America's now further-emboldened neocons, World War 3, in my estimation, continues to move closer.


Regarding Larry Johnson's suggestion regarding Russia's purported attempt to hide its troop movements — via a staged Prigozhin coup — strategic complexity, for its own sake, has always seemed a negative to me.


There is such a thing as being too Machiavellian for one's own good.


In this case, NATO is going to notice Russian troops wherever they are. It will act in the aggressive way that it always does.


No one in NATO or the United States actually cares why Russia does what it does. Knowing our supposed adversary is something beyond our Western ken.


Therefore, I see no tactical value whatsoever in Johnson's hypothesized Russia-initiated troop-concealment ploy.


Especially so, in that the Prigozhin Episode predictably has relighted Americans neocons' ambitions-fuse.


Similarly, when Larry Johnson writes the following, I am skeptical:



You at least have to entertain the possibility that Prigozhin’s role with Wagner PMC is Chief Troll and the target audience is the West, including intelligence organizations, the U.S. military and the media.


The government and media obsession with Prigozhin and the activities of Wagner PMC while devoting almost no time to the real Russian Army and the Russian defense industry is beyond weird.


Could it be that Prigozhin, as the mega Troll, is keeping the West distracted while the actual Russian war fighters go about the business of dismantling Ukraine’s NATO-supplied force?


Worth considering.


© 2023 Larry Johnson, Prigozhin — will the real Slim Shady please stand up?, (25 June 2023)



Not really.


Johnson's reasoning assumes that the US is somehow diverted from recognizing ground realities by Prigozhin's antics.


In truth, the United States is misled by its own hubristic fantasies. Prigozhin (acting or not) and Reality have nothing to do with those.


So again, Russia initiating strategic complexity for its own sake would probably be a stupid thing.


Complexity just compounds the chances for making serious errors. Errors exactly like the Prigozhin Event is likely to turn out to have been.


Thus, Putin gets no points from me for this latest episode of strategically questionable behavior.


That remaining so, whether via having employed an acting Prigozhin to carry out a role regarding something that no one understands. Or leaving a literally crazy Prigozhin in the public eye for far too long.


Paul Craig Roberts' Ukraine War question remains valid:



By applying conventional force at its disposal, the Kremlin can end the conflict in 3 days with total victory over all of Ukraine.


Why does the Kremlin refuse to use sufficient force to end a conflict that is ever-widening and growing ever more in danger of spinning out of control and producing a nuclear confrontation?


This is the only relevant question.


Why am I the only person asking it?


© 2023 Paul Craig Roberts, The Only Relevant Question Is Why Does Putin Permit the Ukraine Conflict to Continue?, Unz Review (23 June 2023)



My answer is that Putin is too cautious by nature to seize Destiny. Instead, he judo-expertly uses his adversaries' momentum(s) against them.


Putin's restrained approach, so far, has seen the US and NATO sink themselves with astonishing speed:



Deindustrializing Western economies.


In marked contrast with Russia's own strengthening one.


Vastly lost US soft power.


In contrast with China and Russia's historically astonishing BRICS-enhancing and de-dollarizing gains.



But Putin arguably fails to recognize that, until he bashes Western leadership's brains out, they will keep (psychotically) coming long enough to kill us all.


That said, and in Putin's defense, I would assert that it is not his job to figuratively de-limb the Great Satan on humanity's behalf.


If nuclear war alights itself, it will (almost certainly) not be Russia's doing.


And if such a war arrives, it will not have been Putin's restraint that caused it. But, instead, America's leader devils having done their incessantly imperious, parasitic pillaging.


One cannot make Evil listen to rationality.


This has been Russia's conundrum all along. It is a problem to which there is no obviously workable strategic answer. Putin's caution and Roberts' recommended aggressiveness both make strategic sense in such ambiguously complex circumstances.