THAT RUSSIAN “COUP” THING YET AGAIN…
Well, as you can tell, this week we've all been guessing what's going on with the so-called coup, so today (Friday) I have decided to round out the speculations by tossing in some observations that occurred to m as soon as I heard that a "deal" had been worked out between Prigozhin and the Kremlin, allowing Prigozhin to go to Byelorussia (or Belarus), to live out his days happily in bald-headed exile, while the rest of the Wagner group is absorbed by the Russian Ministry of Defense. The moment I heard that, the antennae started pulsing with suspicion, and my suspicion meter itself shot into the purple zone, which is beyond the red zone by several factors. "From Byelorussia," I thought, "the leader of the Wagner group is within easy striking distance of Kiev."
Or to put it differently, this whole exercise was contrived from the outset to allow a pivot for a knockout blow. We've seen the Russians do this before in this war. Consider the following article shared by K.M.:
While a long article, the following paragraph captured my imagination:
One last thing to mention. There is still the possibility this is all some kind of elaborate psyop. Anything is possible because the situation is simply so ‘out of left field’. The reason it’s out of left field to me in particular is Prigozhin really did not appear to have any substantive justification for any of this. As I said, Russia was crushing the AFU and has recently been in the best position of the entire SMO. Why would something like this happen now, if it were legitimate? It simply defies belief that Prigozhin would be so incensed about all the “failings” of the MOD at the time of the MOD’s singularly greatest glory on the battlefield. The only explanation in that case would be—as I said before—that Prigozhin knew his time was up as the MOD was already planning on canning him, so it was “now or never” for him.
Thus we are not the only ones considering the "psyop" possibility . M.D. spotted and shared the following article from the U.K.'s Daily Express:
Kyiv(sic, et passim) would be exposed to a brutal onslaught from Russia's more fearsome fighters if progozhin has taken his men with him, Lord Dannatt has warned.
Despite the radically destabilising impact of the Wagner Group's attempted coup yesterday, it may not spell victory for Ukraine in their ongoing conflict against Russia, after a top British military chief warned that hardened mercenaries may now attack Kyiv from Belarus.
Supposedly, men from the Wagner group who chose not to join the "coup" (and we'll get back to that very important point of whether it was a coup or not in a moment) are allowed to sign contracts with the Ministray of Defense, and thus to be integrated into the regular operational command structure of the Russian military. Even as I write this blog (on the Sunday prior to the Friday of its scheduled appearance), US Secretary of State Blinken Planken Plunken is on the radio, blathering on ridiculously about "cracks" in the Russian government. Apparently he didn't get the memo from Lord Dannatt. And that may be one of the objectives here, for if there are any cracks in the structure, they would appear to be mostly in the west.
After all, we were told this was a "coup" and that Wagner's troops were on the road to Moscow. But frankly, I kept waiting to see videos of the columns, which never appeared. Nor would such a stunt be of any real military value to an attempted coup. It would only have made for a lot of easy targets. And as for the business of this being a "coup", I and many many others kept noticing that during Mr. Prigozhin's video-recorded rants and Khrushchev impressions, that there was never a mention of the head of the Russian State and Government by name: Mr. Putin was curiously absent from Prigozhin's bile. As one commentator put it, this has more the characteristic of a mutiny against a local command than a national coup d'etat. So the end result is, it is the West that is more confused than ever, and Mr. Putin is still very much in power, leaving the West to guess, ala this article in Forbes:
IN the Forbes article we learn basically nothing but a history lesson, which anyone familiar with Russian history will already know: is Russia capable of committing colossal acts of world-deceiving and seemingly mindless and pointless deception? Answer, yes:
It's almost impossible to determine the authenticity of any political incident in Russia these days - the effect of Putin's disinformation wars over decades. To adapt Pomeranzev's famous book title, in Russia everything is possible and nothing is real. It seems, at first glance, to be highly improbable that what we witnessed, the breakout of Wagner and their unimpeded march on Moscow, ending with Prigozhin's deal to retire in Belarus – it seems unlikely that any such chaotic sequence of events was choreographed. What could possibly be the point? What was achieved? We'll get to that but let's keep in mind that, if it was a kind of kabuki, this sort of mind-bend is nothing new in Russian history going back to Czarist times. Take a look at Lermontov's classic 19th century novel about the Caucasus, A Hero Of Our Time – all about the deliberate befogging of reality by authorities to the point of inducing widespread paranoia as an instrument of rule.
Then, also, Stalin allowed mini-rebellions to occur so as to determine who posed a threat to his power. He would disappear from office without explanation for a few weeks and whatever began to emerge from the undergrowth to take over would be ruthlessly culled. The Putin approach is slightly different. He has always encouraged internal enmity and jockeying among the Siloviki, the Boyars of our day, with him acting as referee. He uses one side to keep the others in check. If you don't know that, Prigozhin's case might seem mystifying because Prigo has publicly blurted searing truths to power for weeks and months without being muted or punished. Putin clearly found that tolerable, even useful, otherwise Wagner assets and information channels would have suffered before now.
US intelligence analysts, according to the Washington Post, knew of Prigozhin's plans to rebel since mid-June. If they knew, you can be sure Moscow did. But the Kremlin did nothing to stop him early.
Then there's Prigozhin himself, and the precarious position this "deal" puts him in:
And what if it was all an authentic act of mutiny? To what end? If Prigo planned this for two months, he surely didn't intend all along to end up alone in Belarus. Did Prigo merely want to extract his fighters and transfer them to some country in Africa where he could live like Joseph Conrad's Mister Kurtz, all powerful and tyrannical? If so, why ultimately abandon them wholesale? And he surely doesn't believe he will be allowed to live out his days peacefully in Belarus. If the FSB doesn't defenestrate him there one day, a Ukrainian hit squad certainly will. Will he keep his mouth shut in exile – is that part of the deal? Because if he doesn't he won't last long. There's no chance that Lukashenko will protect a publicly ranting Prigo who constantly offends the Kremlin.
But I want to suggest that Lord Dannatt may be on to something, something suggested not by articles, but by looking at this map, shared by P.V.:
Think about it: by having Prigozhin "go crazy" and record his craziness for the whole world to see, and by exiling him to Byelorussia/Belarus, while allegedly regrafting the Wagner group into the Russian command structure, a new "mercenary" group can coalesce around Prigozhin, who can then "go off half-cocked" once again, and head directly for Kiev, while Moscow and Minsk can claim no knowledge or involvement. It's called "plausible deniability."
In short, among the many other possibilities surrounding this whole episode, there is always the possibility that the west has been had...
See you on the flip side...
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