After Wagner’s and Prigozhin’s revolt, which lasted only one day, everything has just begun in the Russian Federation. Of course, many would like to see Prigozhin and his mercenaries reach Moscow and stage a real coup there.
But those who want a regime change in Russia and Putin’s removal will have to wait for a real coup. What are the results of Wagner’s shocking but fruitless march on Moscow after taking control over Rostov and Voronezh?
Prigozhin’s rebellion has shown the weakness of the Kremlin and Putin
The rebellion in Russia was so quick and fruitless. However, these few days have shown the weaknesses of the Kremlin and its leadership, first of all, Putin.
There are several conclusions of Prigozhin’s rebellion. Russia has lost its legitimate leader. According to media reports, Putin fled the capital in the direction of Valdai.
His “address” to the Wagnerians and Russians was openly panicked, and the dictator was caught off guard. Putin even found himself unable to negotiate with his former bandit cook, delegating the mission to the puppet president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.
Putin’s system, which had been constructed for decades by the FSB, was ruined in one night, demonstrating to the world its inability to respond to crises. Some analysts say that it was the FSB that planned the “special operation” to mobilise Russian society to show that “there is no Russia without Putin”. But it gave the opposite result.
Russian leadership was unable to respond effectively to an internal rebellion
It appeared challenging for the Kremlin to respond effectively and quickly to the Wagner PMC’s rebellion. Moreover, Russian sources were quick to emphasise that the Wagner uprising did not affect Russian forces in Ukraine but that the actions of the Wagnerites demonstrated Russia’s lack of reserves in the rear areas.
The uprising exposed the weakness of Russia’s security forces. It demonstrated Putin’s inability to use his troops promptly to counter an internal threat, weakening his monopoly on the use of force.
In one day, the Wagner group captured two Russian regions, while they could not capture Bakhmut town in Ukraine for one year.
Russian troops were unable to suppress an internal rebellion
The Wagner PMC mutiny also demonstrated the degradation of Russia’s military reserves, which are almost entirely focused on the fighting in Ukraine, and the dangers of relying on inexperienced conscripts to protect Russia’s borders.
Prigozhin’s statement that he has stopped and is returning his thugs to their permanent deployment sites so that “no Russian blood is shed” is hypocritical and cynical. Who else but Wagner’s mercenaries shot down several helicopters sent by Defence Minister Shoigu to suppress the rebellion and bomb the mercenaries with high-explosive bombs? Expensive Russian military equipment was destroyed and experienced Russian pilots were killed.
In one day, in the battles with the Wagner PMC, Russia lost one IL-18 airborne secure control centre (airborne secure control centre) aircraft and 6 helicopters: 3 Mi-8MTPR helicopters, 1 Mi-8, 1 Ka-52, 1 Mi-35. According to Russian media, one of the downed helicopters was found in the Voronezh region. Rescuers found two dead at the scene. According to Russian telegram channels, the Wagner rebels killed 12 pilots in 24 hours.
Why did Prigozhin backtrack?
Prigozhin said that the Wagnerites had travelled a long way in a day and had stopped 200 kilometres from Moscow. However, since further rebellion could have led to the bloodshed of the soldiers, he decided to turn back.
According to the press service of the Belarusian dictator Lukashenko, he had been in talks with Prigozhin throughout the day. As a result, the latter allegedly received an “absolutely favourable and acceptable solution to the situation”, including security guarantees for his mercenaries.
Prigozhin disappointed Russians who believed in a prompt regime change
The Wagner rebels’ leader Prigozhin is not trustworthy now in the eyes of the Russians. What about those who believed in the passionate appeal of the Wagner owner and decided to support him? The mobilised Russians who rebelled against their cruel commanders to join the “liberation campaign”? The intimidated, zombified by propaganda media and ignorant Russian society seems to have realised that it cannot trust anyone in this country.
The atmosphere of mistrust, total hatred and anger will corrode the Russian elites – the capital’s, regional and military – as well. On the other hand, everyone has realised that in Moscow, the rule of law decides everything and the current government is not as omnipotent as it seems.
The Prigozhin-Putin conflict is not over
There is no hope that Putin will fulfil his promises to Prigozhin, especially since he did not personally make them. He only gave the order to remove Prigozhin physically. The order remains in force, despite the alleged closure of the criminal case initiated by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office against the ‘Wagner rebels’.
The conflict, distrust and desire for revenge stay. The parties to the coup are like spiders in a jar – one of them will not survive. So now we have to see who will strike first.
The revolt did not destroy the dictatorship in Russia, but it did destroy the relationship between Putin and Prigozhin. Prigozhin had long been critical of the Russian military leadership, and Putin could have used this to shift the blame for the losses on the battlefield to defence minister Shoigu. However, during his address, the Kremlin dictator said that Prigozhin was a “scoundrel” and a “traitor”.
Russian liberal opposition stance to the Prigozhin rebellion
In light of the loud but quick and unsuccessful rebellion, it is worth paying attention to the so-called Russian opposition. Russian “intellectuals” and “liberals” began to sing the praises of the man accused of war crimes, who is responsible for destroying cities in Ukraine, killing civilians by his militants, and sending tens of thousands of Russians who joined his group to a certain death.
The telegram channel of opposition leader Mikhail Khodorkovsky, commenting on the accusations of ideological collaboration with Prigozhin, wrote: “Your world is a world of ‘pink ponies’, and ours is a world of dinosaurs, where hundreds and thousands die every day at the front, and where you will end up if the Kremlin’s creature remains in power!” The Russian opposition instantly saw Prigozhin as a “peacemaker”, someone who sent his gang to fight in Africa, Syria, and Ukraine.
Yevgeny Prigozhin and his terror organisation, the Wagner PMC, committed many alleged war crimes. In particular, according to an investigation by the Russian organisation Gulagu.net, Prigozhin’s men brutally executed Ukrainian prisoners and recorded it on video. In addition, his mercenaries also killed civilians in mass, as one of their commanders admitted.
Should we expect a wider civil war in Russia?
What’s next? While the immediate threat to the Putins’ regime posed by Wagner’s boss, Prigozhin, may have diminished, the memorable but fruitless march dealt a severe blow to the stability of the Kremlin.
Prigozhin’s revolt was, in fact, a trailer for the civil war that would inevitably occur in Russia. Ukrainians are most looking forward to this, as the civil war in Russia will mean that Moscow will no longer be able to continue its senseless, unprovoked, destructive war in Ukraine.