GUEST BLOG: Ben Morgan – Prigozhin’s coup. A win for Ukraine? Or a win for Putin? Or everybody loses?


At the time this article was written, Prigozhin had just reached an agreement to accept exile in Belarus and send his troops back to their camps.  However, in the previous 24 hours his forces had taken control of the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.  A city of about 1 million people that is the main headquarters and supply base for Russia’s war in Ukraine.  Then a column of Wagner Group forces advanced toward Moscow creating enough concern that the city was ‘locked down’ by security forces.  Some reports claim that they had advanced to about 200km south of the city!  

Prigozhin made a variety of statements about marching to Moscow to confront Sergei Shoigu and Valeri Gerasimov, Russia’s Defence Minister and Chief of Defence Force who Prigozhin holds responsible for Russia’s poor performance in the war.  He had not personally criticised Putin, instead presenting himself as an advocate for the people of Russia by highlighting the consequences of Shoigu and Gerasimov’s incompetence and demanding their removal. 

Unfortunately for him, Putin does not want advocates for the people of Russia, and he reacted quickly and fiercely making a powerful statement that he saw Prigozhin’s activity as armed insurrection and that it would be punished.  Behind the scenes Putin was dispatching loyal ally, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to negotiate with Prigozhin. This activity was successful and a settlement was negotiated with Prigozhin taking exile in Belarus and Wagner soldiers being told to return to their camps.

In the West, used to stable government this event is very dramatic. However, I think that in Russia it will have less of an impact; and in fact, may contribute to Putin’s reputation as a strong leader. Most Russians will never see the details of what has happened, instead they will be fed the information that Putin wants them to hear.  We know that Russian state TV provided limited coverage of Prigozhin’s activities aside from Putin’s address.  Now that the crisis has been quickly averted it will be portrayed as an example of Putin’s strength and decisive leadership.  The real question is – What happens next? 

Back in Ukraine, it is useful to put this situation into context by reviewing how the campaign is developing. And; it is very clear that this activity is inopportune for Russia, for three weeks Ukraine has been testing the frontline. Light-weight forces pressing the Russian defenders, drawing out their reserves and artillery.  Finding out their strengths and weakness.  This is a slow process and Ukraine is taking casualties. However, Ukraine has a large reserve ready for this offensive; nine brigades equipped with NATO equipment and another three with Russian equipment.  Brigades normally have about 5000 soldiers, so a total force of about 60,000 able to be concentrated in one place to punch through Russian lines.  So far though, Ukraine has used only about 10-20% of this force for these probing attacks.  

Ukraine’s activity is aimed at bringing Russian reserves forward, either to replace soldiers killed in the frontline or to reinforce threatened areas of front.  During the war Russia’s force structure has developed a hierarchy of units, some able to defend a line but only a few able to attack and re-take a section of frontline (See Dr Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds’ article – ‘Meatgrinder: Russian Tactics in the Second Year of Its Invasion of Ukraine’). This means that if Ukrainian attackers capture a section of frontline, Russia will use soldiers from its small groups of ‘assault’ infantry (coining Dr Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds’ term for elite, capable infantry units) held in reserve, to try to retake the threatened sector.   The effects of this are that Russia’s reserve of assault infantry is depleted. Further, if assault infantry re-captures a section of frontline, it is too rare and valuable to use in the frontline for long periods of time so must be quickly replaced. Therefore, after retaking a section of frontline, assault infantry will be replaced by less sophisticated and capable soldiers; allowing the more useful soldiers be re-deployed. The concern is that the new infantry is unfamiliar with its flanking units, the ground and tactical situation.  Essentially, that they need to learn quickly and adapt to working on a new section of the front.  And; rapid adaptability is not something Russia’s frontline infantry soldiers have demonstrated in the war to-date.  Adapting to new situations at work is always hard, especially when your work place is a trench that is about to be attacked by a capable enemy!  Ukraine’s activity in the last three weeks is not only helping identify strengths and weakness but is forcing the Russians to move soldiers around breaking up their comfortable well-practiced defensive system. 

Ukraine is also mapping out the things that we cannot see on satellite photos, like minefields and the strongest Russian electronic warfare resources.  An activity that does result in casualties, the Ukrainians providing a good demonstration of sophisticated combined arms tactics as they gently probe Russia’s minefields using tanks and Mine Resistant Armoured Vehicles which although suffering damage protect their crews.  This phase has also highlighted some Russian strengths because the large attacks have forced Russia to use capabilities like their effective counter-battery (anti-artillery) drones; or their very good anti-drone electronic warfare capabilities.  Both capabilities that are new and would not have been identified without large probing attacks.  

Last week, Ukraine appeared to pause operations.  This is not unexpected its activities in the previous couple of weeks involved tough fighting with relatively limited forces.  In any kind of offensive operation there is a need to regularly pause and reconstitute your force otherwise the attacker risks over-extending themselves. Often a pause precedes a change of tempo, as fresh troops are moved forwards and tired troops rotated rearwards.  

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Then on 23 June 2023, the Conhar Bridge was destroyed.  Most likely by Storm Shadow missiles. Storm Shadow has a large shaped charged warhead designed specifically to blow holes in reinforced concrete, cutting the metal reinforcing rods and the damage to the bridge appears to have cut large clean holes in the span consistent with this type of weapon.  This incident is very important because Russia’s west Zaporizhian forces near Melitopol, are predominantly supplied from Crimea using this bridge.  Another route exists but it takes twice as long for trucks using it to get to the area around Melitopol that is being threatened by Ukraine.  This attack is a combat indicator that Ukraine’s offensive is not blunted and that something is coming; soon.  Russia will repair the Conhar bridge in a matter of weeks and it is likely that this period indicates the rough timing for a large Ukrainian operation taking advantage of the supply problems it creates. 

Prigozhin’s insurrection on 24-25 June 2023, must have been good news for the Ukrainians, providing yet another dilemma for Russia’s commanders to deal with as their offensive develops.  And; creating the possibility of a complete Russian collapse.  An army of 25,000 men capturing a city of a million people then marching unopposed 4-500km towards Moscow is a big issue, especially as current reporting indicates that the full resources of the Russian state could not stop the column.   Further, it is likely that the Ukrainians had early warning of the trouble in the Russian camp. United States sources stating that from mid-June they observed Wagner Group forces concentrating in unusual locations indicating that something unexpected was about to happen.  Information that was likely to have been shared with Ukraine. 

However, I think that in the short-term Ukraine will be disappointed by the results of the insurrection.  There is a great deal of commentary about the impact that the insurrection will have in Russia, most commentators stating that this incident has mortally damaged Putin weakening his hold on power. And; there is no doubt that it has demonstrated weaknesses in Putin’s control of the country and this will have implication. However, any political issues inside Russia will take time to play out and the impact on the campaign is a different matter.  My assessment is that in the short term Prigozhin’s actions are more likely to make Ukraine’s job harder and my reasoning for this is as follows:

  • Russia does not have a free press.  Russia does not have a free press providing balanced reports of the situation.  Most people in Russia including many of those in the ‘elite’ will see only what Putin wants them to see.  In this case, that Putin has swiftly and quickly crushed an armed insurrection.  It seems likely that within Russia, Prigozhin’s actions are more likely to confirm the power of Putin and the State, rather than diminish them.  This does not mean there will not be repercussions because it is highly likely that within the ruling elite the silovaki (strongmen) will be assessing the situation and questioning Putin’s capability. 
  • Russians see things differently.  Russia is not Europe.  It has a very different history and culture that impacts on how modern Russians assess events.  Observers need to be careful not to interpret this activity from a liberal, democratic and modern ‘Western’ perspective.  Putin and his elite are not like Western leaders, instead they are a group of ‘strongmen’ shaped by their experience during the fall of the Soviet Union.  A period during which they were young military and intelligence officers who saw armed insurrection first hand, so this is not a new experience for them.  Instead of being shocked by the insurrection it is likely they understand the implications and will not be easily panicked. It is interesting to note how the Russian elite appears to have quickly united to stop Prigozhin and to-date there is no sign of a larger coup building.  

Instead, we need to interpret this incident as a battle between very powerful and entitled men, essentially warlords. Taking place in a feudal kingdom – Russia. The Czar (Putin) is infallible and can never be wrong, although his advisors can. Prigozhin sees himself as the Czar’s loyal servant bringing word of bad advice to the court.  He is always careful to direct his vitriol at those below and around Putin, not at the man himself.  

Unfortunately for Prigozhin, the reality is that Putin is not a benevolent Czar and he is just a pawn in Putin’s larger game.  A man that was allowed to build an army because like all dictators, Putin plays favourites to divide his court and make sure that no individual can get enough power to become a threat.  It is telling that when the Czar indicated his displeasure the elite closed ranks and Prigozhin quickly melted away accepting exile and sending his troops home. 

  • Prigozhin’s exile simplifies command and control.  Prigozhin’s removal from the war means that Gerasimov has one less factor to consider and manage in his campaign planning. He no longer needs to negotiate with Prigozhin; or put up with his constant criticism and can get on with unifying his command.  Note that General Sergey Surovikin, a Prigozhin ally was the person chosen to lead the immediate public statements opposing the insurrection a demonstration that the armed forces command structure was united against the usurper. 
  • Russia now has 25,000 well-trained and experienced soldiers to deploy.  Although it is not confirmed at the time this article was written, it seems highly unlikely that Prigozhin’s 25,000 experienced Wagner Group soldiers will be allowed to drift to Belarus or back to Africa.  Instead, they will rapidly be re-formed into units ready to get back into the fight with Ukraine. The difference being that rather than having to argue with Prigozhin about how and where they are used Gerasimov will be able to use them freely.   

In summary, Prigozhin’s insurrection was very surprising and could have led to some very unexpected outcomes.  However, it was quickly managed by Putin demonstrating that he is still definitely in charge, a statement of authority that I think will resonate with the people of Russia even if it raises eyebrows in the elite.  In Russia, this incident will be portrayed as Putin taking decisive action to stop an armed insurrection and in the short-term the elite will support him implicitly because they know from experience that infighting or lack of unity could lead to a complete downfall. Therefore, I do not think we should expect sudden political changes in Russia that will affect the current campaign. If they come it will be later.  Further, removing Prigozhin simplifies Russian command in Ukraine and may reduce political influence in military decisions.  It also means that Gerasimov now has a force of 25,000 experienced, ex-Wagner Group soldiers available under his command.  

Essentially, Ukraine’s window of opportunity for developing their offensive that they created by destroying the Conhar Bridge still exists and for a few days Prigozhin’s insurrection may weaken Russian forces; but over-time Russia may come back stronger and more united.  It is a risky period for Ukraine.


Ben Morgan is a bored Gen Xer and TDBs military blogger


  1. “Russia does not have a free press providing balanced reports of the situation. Most people in Russia including many of those in the ‘elite’ will see only what Putin wants them to see.” BEN MORGAN

    If he had not been uncovered and was still in the position to alter the RNZ overseas news feed, the Kremlin’s asset at RNZ, would have altered this story to benefit Putin. To try to make us see what Putin wants us to see.

    • And what’s Western MSM Pat, is that Truthful or Free? Why has RT & Sputnik been shut out, what are they afraid of? Western MSM is nothing more than a Propagandist Echo Chamber with people like you who are totally deceived, hence the reason people are tuning out & seeking the Truth from alternatives!

    • So now we see only what Reuters want us to see? History is littered with examples where disputes over what is true have divided people & at times it is possible that both sides can be wrong.

        • Johan, at least they have the awareness to realise they’re being lied to. Unlike our ‘pundits’ who lap up everything they’ve been told. Remember, it’s easier to fool someone than to convince them that they’ve been fooled.

    • Russia stronger than ever?
      Uncertain times for our Russian friends, that is for sure. More Russians will question views that emerge from official Russian channels as of this weekend.
      NATO may well decide to accelerate the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. Air defence is crucial to support the counter offensive. Ukraine will continue with the counter offensive with caution.
      I am sure there are interesting conversations going on amongst the Russian political elite.

      • Johan Thiart, Nato weapons have been proven obsolete fighting russia and there’s one really good reason for this?

        There system is flawed because the components to fight the russians are from different militaries who haven’t integrated with each other as one whole system.

        Also the Ukrainians don’t have suppression ability like air superiority. The russian weaponry is more superior than what the west admits, like their Kinzal missiles taking out the US patriot anti-missile batteries units.

        Have you seen what russians have been using against ISIS in Syria?

      • Let’s hope that ordinary Russians will accept what Prigozhin said about the war’s origins although NJ never will!
        Prigozhin may be a thug with a criminal past and yet he has been far more truthful about the war than Putin or Shoigu have been. Will ordinary Russians believe him? Perhaps the Moscow and Petersburg elites will more than the rural poor.
        Will the TDB ‘useful idiots’ believe Prigozhin? Maybe some will.

      • The devils all in the details there Johan, if I remember correctly you’re a fanboy of F-16s being supplied to Ukraine which to say the least will be problematic for the West.
        Since Russia has no way of knowing if they are the standard model or Nuclear capable F-16s they will immediately be targeted up to and including taking off from NATO bases. Inside rumors are saying Russia has already made the decision and all that remains is to decide is what weapons to use.

    • “The Kremlin’s asset” – sitting behind you keyboard, that’s a pretty gutless accusation to make against someone who has lost his job for simply subbing foreign news agency stories to alter their bias, Pat.

      • ‘Simply subbing foreign new agency stories to alter their bias’ (Malcolm Evans). It’s pretty obvious to me Malcolm that you wouldn’t know objectivity unless you fell over it. There are many value judgments of yours in that small phrase I quoted.
        The subbing was greatly offensive to Ukrainians in New Zealand and the culprit should apologise to them.

        • umm, Sorry Ovod, but I find you unconvincing. I suspect that you meant to write: “IF you fell over it.” “Unless” makes little sense.
          Your subsequent attempt at objectivity fails when you use the word ‘culprit’. I have seen many who defend this “culprit’s” additions as adding objectivity, not lessening it.
          Freedom of speech?

          • Adding objectivity? You have to be joking! Reuters and the BBC are outraged that this happened. ‘I have seen many’ that is a convenient generality on your part. I can wager that many more people saw this ‘editing’ as an outrage.

      • “… a pretty gutless accusation to make against someone who has lost his job.” MALCOLM EVANS

        He didn’t lose his job he resigned.

        If anyone is gutless, it is someone working behind the scene putting words in others’ mouths that they never said. If he had any courage he would have stood his ground and argued his case and fought for his job.

        He wasn’t sacked. He quit while he was on paid leave, (pending an investigation). He could have put his case. This is not Russia, he would have got a fair hearing. And the public would have got a chance to hear his defence for his actions, and the reasons behind them, as he saw it. But no, instead he slunk off like someone with something to hide.

        He will get another job. The worst thing that could happen to him, is that he might struggle to find another job.

        He won’t lose 25 years of his life.

        “….The activist was first accused of “spreading false information” about Russia’s military and “higher leadership”.
        The rights group OVD-Info has recorded more than 100 prosecutions under that so-called “fake news” law since the war began: a local councillor, Alexei Gorinov, was sentenced to seven years in July and activist Ilya Yashin will go on trial soon after referring to the murder of civilians in Bucha.
        Vladimir’s case is based on a speech in Arizona where he said Russia was committing war crimes in Ukraine with cluster bombs in residential areas and “the bombing of maternity hospitals and schools”.
        That has all been independently documented, but according to the charge sheet I have seen, Russian investigators deem his statements to be false because the defence ministry “does not permit the use of banned means… of conducting war” and insists that Ukraine’s civilian population “is not a target”.
        The facts on the ground are ignored….

        Mr Kara-Murza, a journalist and politician, was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison on charges linked to his criticism of the war of aggression against Ukraine. The charges against Mr Kara-Murza are unfounded, and together with a sham trial, constitute a clear violation of his human rights…..
        ….His bravery in speaking out against the current government of the Russian Federation and the Russian aggression against Ukraine in a country where opposition is silenced by death, imprisonment or exile, commands our respect.

        • Wow. If I was Ben Morgan and Martyn I’d be so proud to have chauvinist, racist bigots like this one, Ted and Ovod on my side. What a crew.

          • You are the racist Paul – with your hate of Ukrainians.
            I have Russian blood so I can’t hate Russians by definition. Just Putin.
            Keep trolling Paul.

      • We are Europeans NZ is a European country Ukraine is a European country we can look after our own first. You worry about middle eastern cuntries.

        • tedheath, Rubbish we are a Polynesian country that happens to harbour a significant european population because they stole the land. Europe is on the otherside of the fucken world. Keep dreaming lol.

          • Hate to disappoint you tedheath, but Stephen is right, and you look tired and pale to me.
            I am a 76-yr-old Pakeha, who knows and loves his European ancestry, and spent nearly 5 years living in Europe. But even I revile you claiming that NZ is a ‘European’ country. Get real.

            • NZ has an anti smaking law, for goodness sake. We are a western facing community, like it or not. The other lot have statutes allowing husbands to discipline their women. I think you need to sit down and take a deep breath.

              Stephen is dead wrong!

              • what do you mean we, kimosabe? it’s so bad in this country and yet you think the health system is all hippocratic oaths and everything is peachy – until this sort of cultural bias is extinguished – NZ is going nowhere.

      • Wouldn’t know. Is it different on the palate than the blood of thousands of Ukrainians and Russians? Less cumin perhaps?

  2. Does anybody really think that the Russians are going to give up and go home if Putin were to be replaced? Would Medvedev show restraint? Nothing changes for the advantage of the West.

    I haven’t followed the affair, kept my eyes on the front. Russian forces are busy absorbing and annihilating the UA. There is no opportunity for Ukraine’s offensive, merely defeat. The question now is how Russian forces take advantage?

  3. Putin is now weakened because this went public. This also happened to Gorbachev – a failed coup attempt followed a few weeks later by his ousting.

    Also, Prigozhin needs to keep the curtains drawn and pour his own drinks for the rest of his life…

    • In 1991, Yeltsin took advantage of the chaos from that coup to cement his power over what was then the RFSR while the USSR was falling down around everyone’s ears. People forget after the coup, he banned the CPSU on Russian soil. There is no Yeltisin like figure today.

      • He needed and Putin needed each other. At the start!

        Putin thinks it was a serious coup attempt and still says so! Prigozhin said from the start it was not a coup. I thought Prigozhin lied.

        Thanks for helping us solve the problem Francesca.

  4. This Rebellion is Kabuki Theatre, a Hoax cooked up by Putin & Prigozhin to misdirect & mislead NATO? Under the cover of a supposed coup, Russia moved Troops in huge numbers to it’s Borders in anticipation of the NATO exercises in July to discourage any Invasion ideas! The fact that no Russians died, all Wagner Militants were pardoned & incorporated into the Russian Military & Prigozhin himself pardoned for Treason, a Death Penalty offence & exiled to Belarus, how convenient, it’s a ruse that the West bought Hook, line & sinker. Putin is the good cop to Prigozhins bad cop, it’s a Russian psyops that Putin & Prigozhin has successfully mislead the West with for months now! Well played Mr Putin!

    • Who really knows what goes on? Wait till the dust settles and hear what really happened. Either way the one thing that we can say is that the Russian army have stuck to task and that the people support them. No reprieve in this event for Ukraine.

      • Thats about how I feel Nick. I heard that Putin and Prigozhin had a lengthy private meeting 10 days before this happened. We won’t know what is realy going on till we see what happens in the next few weeks if ever, but it was a very strange event. There were not 25000 Wagners involved apparently, only about 5000 or only 1500 by some accounts , and none of the Wagner officers. I think it was a stunt , but too elaborate not to have had some objectives that are not evident yet.
        There is no evidence of any support for a coup attempt in any part of the Russian society if that is what Prigozhin was anticipating, but the complete lack of any confrontation with him when he entered Rostov-on-Don and met with the military leaders there seems like he was expected, and well received, but without the least support for an insurrection. Great entertainment if you can overlook the mass murder in Ukraine.
        i did wonder if the idea was to encourage Ukraine to get on with their counteroffensive , as they had paused a bit to lick their wounds. And perhaps decide to just defend the rest of the land Russia has claimed leaving Russia to do the attacking with the losses of men being reversed. But we will see what happens.
        cheers D J S

    • Kabuki theatre cooked up by Putin and Prigozhin to lure the Urkainians into a false sense of security, before the Russian counter, counteroffensive sweeps all before it

      Antforce tries to launch a new conspiracy theory to justify the continuation of the war.

      My guess, this latest conspiracy theory by Antforce will fail to get off the launch pad.

      But I will admit that I could be wrong.
      As the US advertising industry maxim goes; ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public’.
      So let us see if any other pro-war trolls or useful idiots are stupid enough to pick up on Antforce’s latest offering to justify the slaughter in Ukraine.

      • But, but, but Ukraine is winning eh there Pat all they need is more Western weapons isn’t that what MSM is leading us to believe. Personally in amazed how the brutal dictator Putin cracked down on the attempted overthrow (sarcasm) doesn’t quite gel with your narrative there Pat.

        • “Personally in amazed how the brutal dictator Putin cracked down on the attempted overthrow (sarcasm) doesn’t quite gel with your narrative there Pat.”

          One brutal war criminal, guilty of mass slaughter, reserves his mercy for another war criminal guilty of mass slaughter.

          I can’t see any contradiction here.

          ‘Gells’ perfectly with my narrative.

          What’s your take fingrin, on why Putin went easy on Prigozhin?

          I would be curious to know.

          • Fingrinn’s position is very boring.

            Putin is the victim, Putin is the strong man, Putin is the strategist, NATO is the oppressor, NATO weapons are crap, Russia is winning, Russian weapons and army are superior….. Ukraine belongs to Russia and Russians can by law discipline their spouses and dependents to impunity.

            Russia good Ukraine naughty.

    • It is good the West has clever people like you to tell us all the truth of how clever the Russians are . When they become our overlords you will be rewarded .

    • Wow, did the Russian version of Ethan Hunt and the IMF team turn up as well? Prigozhin will probably accidentally fall out of a Belarus hotel window at some point

    • Yep, sure more than meets the eye.

      Though, a friend of mine reckons that Putin probably took Prigozhin’s family hostage to stop his ‘March to Moscow’.

    • Plenty of reports of Russian pilots and crew that attacked the convoy being killed. One source listed a total of 35 air crew killed by Wagner action.

    • Bang on Antforce62.
      I reckon give it a couple of weeks and we will see Wagner troops going into Ukraine from Belarus.

      • Well I never. Here I was thinking nobody could be cravenly slavish enough to believe Antforce’s latest conspiracy theory.
        But I ‘spose every brutal empire is not complete without an Uncle Tom.

        • Ant Force. No one from official sources seems to be denying this, there are photos of the downed and burnt helicopters and many Russian Putin supporters are calling for punishment of Wagner for downing so much valuable air power and personnel. The Russians, not Ukrainians or western original sources, are claiming that one IL 22 Ministry of Defence plane with 10 plus officials on board was downed plus 6 helicopters. Some other sources are saying there was more than 1 plane downed. Wagner are saying they had to down aircraft that were firing on them. You can’t prove it is not true and on the balance of probabilities it happened. There is only a question re the number of aircraft Wagner downed and the number killed. So you were wrong saying no one was killed during the convoy toward Moscow.

          • It is a puzzle that an apparent few attacks were made against the convoy , without damage to it , and with losses. If the convoy was to be stopped with arms surely Russia had the means to do it. A less than half hearted token action that cost people’s lives seems very pointless and un necessary.
            D J S

        • Are you telling us that one cannot trust Putin?
          Was a Putin lying when he celebrated the brave airmen that died in defence of the sovereignty of the state?

          No mate, the facts do not support your narrative.

        • tedheath June 26, 2023 at 5:33 pm
          Actually 44 aircrew from the planes the Wagnerites shot down were CBDed (crash burn die)

          Ant Force June 26, 2023 at 11:39 pm
          Really, can you prove it?

          From the Guardian:


          “The courage and self-sacrifice of the fallen hero pilots saved Russia from tragic devastating consequences,” VLADIMIR PUTIN

          I am guessing that Ant Farce would claim that the President of the Russian Federation had these words put in his mouth by a Guardian MSM sub-editor correcting for anti-Western bias.

        • Ant Force. Putin himself named 10 military personnel who were killed and listed their ranks from when the AL22 was shot down by Wagner. It was a Kremlin public release. Is that proof enough for you or is this all “theatre” too? AntForce you have consistently been wrong about matters re the Russian invasion of Ukraine. With 6 or more other aircraft shot down and no survivors the initial claims of 35 dead from Wagner actions may be close to the mark.

    • @Antforce62. — bingo. I was listening to this older journalist from my country of origin (Eastern Europe) who was saying similar things: that this ‘rebellion’ didn’t pass his smell test either. I was initially thinking maybe he wants to deflect attention from accusations of war crimes while giving his friend a chance of escape to Belarus, but your speculation makes much more sense. Russian ‘maskirovka’ won them Stalingrad.

      • The real story of that war is very different for your byline.
        The Soviets conspired with the Germans until the Germans attacked their soviet allies. And only then did the “great revolutionary war” start!

    • Why would they need to do this Antforce? Most of the time you are pointing out totally dominate Russia are. Would the little “act” make the satellites look the other way?

  5. Its a Psyop giving hope to NATO for a fleet second then pulling the rug from underneath their feet. The sovereignty of russia lies within the Kremlin not some oligarch making outrageous claims.

    • Exactly. It’s inconceivable that Wagner troops ‘occupied’ and advanced on Russian territory like it was child play. And Prigojin is merely a drunkard with money, the PR face of Wagner. Some seasoned military is in charge of the army, their intentions must have been more sophisticated.

        • Context is everything. The adulation shown to the mutineers was filmed after Wagner agreed to step down and yes from the Russian point of view Wagner are hero’s, not because of challenging the state but because of their exploits in Ukraine. Russians understand clearly the West seeks their destruction and they are a threat to the Russian way of life. More Western sleight of hand designed for the ill informed. The whole atmosphere was akin to a street party. I would encourage you to do more research.

  6. All I can say is he’ll become paranoid and therefore more erratic with his behaviour. Then a ‘cup of tea’ meeting will be arranged as an approach from Putin for a talk.
    The end.

    • “If you don’t put down your insurrection. Your entire family will spend the rest of their lives in the gulag!”

  7. My theory is that the CIA/NATO offered the Wagner mercenary group more than what Putin was paying them to fight in Ukraine and instead fight Russia (that is after all the nature of a private army). Then Putin countered that offer within 24 hours and sent them to Belarus. I suspect $10’s of millions were in play (if not more).
    The more “out there” explanation is it was all a 4D chess move by Putin where the entire thing was staged to further consolidate his power and confuse CIA/NATO giving them false hope and root out those close to him who supported the fake coup. I think Erdogan made a similar thing where a possible fake coup occurred while he wasn’t even there which he immediately used to create new totalitarian laws that helped cement his leadership.

    • @Nitrium. Exactly. Both theories make sense. I’m inclined towards the second because: how was the mercenary army able to advance so easily on Russian territory, like it was an abandoned ship??? Unless it was just pre-agreed theater. Or maybe Putin was trying to avoid bloodshed or things getting worse.

    • This is a crazy conspiracy theory. Totally false. The events were bizarre enough without inventing some crazy conspiracy theory.

  8. Russia has been in the crap since Gorbachev/Yeltsin/Putin when the workers assets and industry were handed over to Oligarchs and millions of hard done by people in the ex USSR states saw their pensions and savings disappear. Longevity dropped rapidly. Cur Roger Douglas even did a series of lectures explaining to the poor Russians how best to quickly flog off state assets along with other IMF World Bank types.

    The ex USSR had become what the trotskyites call a “degenerate workers state”, every thing socially owned, but with a bureaucratic layer in charge rather than the mass of the people–but they had free education, health etc. If the soviets had gone consumerist and invented skinny jeans and iPhones instead of SS20s they might still be here!

    But–Remember Jan 6 at Congress–the USA came seriously close to their own coup a couple of years back–seriously. So don’t be too smug–the governed either participate or they are ruled by authoritarians as in many countries now.

    • ” If the soviets had gone consumerist and invented skinny jeans and iPhones instead of SS20s they might still be here!”

      That is what the Chinese did.

  9. Anybody who bothered to read news or listen to anyone in eastern Europe knew ages ago that the entire so called Russian military was privatized, bought and paid for mercenaries. Most of us who are anti war knew how fucking scary this is. Yes this is Russian vaudeville.

    • @tabatha. Yes, Russia is paying Wagner troops, likely instructing their military commander (not Rogojin, he’s just the PR face) how to proceed, yet they decide to bomb them out as Rogojin claimed? Just defies common sense.

      • I believe that Prigozhin is paying for his Wagner troops not the Kremlin. Wagner pays well above Russian army rates tax free and Prigozhin has the money, particularly from the gold mines in Africa that he occupies. When Prigozhin’s HQ was raided the FSB found a billion roubles that were used to pay the mercenaries.

    • Tabatha – bullshit! Try to not overstate your erroneous conjectures. eg
      ” ..the entire so called Russian military was privatized, bought and paid for mercenaries..”

  10. Ben, I cannot agree that this incident turns Putin into a stronger leader. Quite the reverse in fact and all the pundits say so. They all say Putin looks weaker. Also witness the adoration that Prigozhin got in Rostov which is difficult to comprehend. Perhaps they were happy he was leaving.
    By the way, it is ‘siloviki’ [силовики] not the way you spelled it (silovaki).

    • I also think Putin has been weakened. Prigozhin is the one who has earned an immunity, not Putin.
      Putin is the current figure head prosecuting the war on behalf of the Kleptocratic imperialist Russian state. The war is not going well. It will be Putin who will take the fall for its failure. Rather than being another Peter The Great, ruler of a reborn Russian empire as he imagined, I have little doubt Putin’s descent to ignominy will happen relatively soon. The oligarchs will switch their support to Prigozhin. Prigozhin is telling it like it is. “The war is unwinnable” “Putin’s reasons for it are false”

      “…the adoration that Prigozhin got in Rostov which is difficult to comprehend.”

      Not too difficult to comprehend, Prigozhin is currently the most googled subject line in Russia.
      Despite the fact that he is one himself, Prigozhin’s attacks on the oligarchs has struck a chord. Much like Trump’s attacks on the ‘Elites’ and Hitlers attacks on the financiers and bankers struck a chord with people, despite the fact the Trump himself was a billionaire and Hitler was funded by the financiers and bankers.

  11. tl;dr yet

    a lovers tiff and a good excuse to calm the farm. pure theatrics to cover their atrocity. a new opera for the bolshoi to dance to. the oligarchs are revolting. who is in the wings, waiting? gangsters with nukes. what can go wrong. my bet is on a major general -lol-

  12. I’m curious how Pat and Ovod try to reconcile the fact they label Putin a brutal Dictator but somehow he somehow let Prigohzin walk away. It must be a real mind fcuk for them both.

  13. I have no idea. Vlad Vexler’s ideas are all I can put in response. Putin is no longer a solidity beyond approach. The trash of his justification is undermined. Maybe, Putin will be more vicious in Ukraine to prove himself.

    I think Russians are Europeans first and last, and worthy of democracy.

  14. “Eugene. Your 3 daughters and wife and mother live in Russia ay? They can’t leave because like you and other oligarchs, they are barred from the EU and the US ay? How will they survive in the Gulag?”

  15. OP: “Russia is not Europe”.

    I respectfully disagree.

    There are two European halves that are equally ‘European’: one organized around the Protestant-Catholic and the other organized around the Orthodox-Eastern/Greek axis.
    It’s the Tsarist-autocratic-colonial mindset of their leaders that has always been a problem.

    • Agreed Alyana! Although Ukraine is wholly in Europe, Russia is not and the idea of Eurasianism has been promoted by Dugin, Ilyine and other ultranationalist philosophers.

    • That says everything about the “Russian” psyche.
      At least more Russians now know that they were lied to.
      Not many in the Kremlin will feel very safe.

  16. Now the excitement is all over, Putin is still in charge, Ukraine’s offensive is still going nowhere and is taking enormous losses. Carry on trolls.

  17. All the experts have been focused on the US elections in November 2024 but forget that Russia has presidential elections around April 2024. I have heard that Putin may be forced to withdraw from standing in these elections. This is far from certain however.

  18. Russians are soft cocks – what sort of tossers put up with a dicktraitor for so long – Ukraine and NATO will tear them a new one

  19. “In the West, used to stable government this event is very dramatic. However, I think that in Russia it will have less of an impact; and in fact, may contribute to Putin’s reputation as a strong leader.” BEN MORGAN

    Far from being seen as a strong leader, Putin is being mocked for his weak response to the insurrection by pro-war Russians.

    Hardline Russians Mock ‘Pitiful’ Putin’s Bewildering Post-Mutiny Speeches
    Allison Quinn
    Wed, 28 June 2023 2-min read


    ….”I have not seen anything more pitiful performed by a man remotely resembling the president. Great job everyone… The unrest continues,” wrote Igor Strelkov, the former commander of Russia’s proxy forces in Donetsk.

    Other pro-Kremlin military bloggers insisted the Kremlin would soon show a more decisive response to the uprising.

    “I just can’t believe that this is it,” wrote pro-Russian military blogger Yury Kotenok, speculating that perhaps “personnel decisions” will soon be announced as a result of the mutiny.

    “There is a stubborn belief that this is not all. We’re waiting,” wrote Semyon Pegov.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, meanwhile, dismissed claims that the armed uprising over the weekend had been a blow to Putin’s image, saying that it was just “ultra-emotional tantrums” by analysts that were to blame for that notion….

    “Now that the crisis has been quickly averted it will be portrayed as an example of Putin’s strength and decisive leadership.” BEN MORGAN

    The portrayal being put on these events by the Kremlin, as an example of Putin’s strength and decisive is being echoed by pro-war trolls here. Meanwhile inside Russia itself pro-war bloggers are mocking the Kremlin’s response. Others will judge what this says about the pro-war-trolls here and the useful idiots that follow them. I think that basically they are unthinking stooges for whatever troll food the Kremlin feeds them.

    • God you’re a laugh Pat
      Which is it?
      Putins a monster who kills everyone who disagrees with him
      He’s an all powerful dictator,bloodthirsty and cruel,a maniac
      And when it becomes evident he’s none of those things .you Nato freaks cry ” he’s weak.he’s weak “!
      And now you’re taking the word of Strelkov!!!!
      Jeez .watch out for the whiplash

      • Wow!!
        Selective morality.
        Showing mercy to killers washes your hands from killing innocent people. It is not a crime to be a Ukrainian or live in Ukraine!!!

        Whiplash, indeed!

        • But it is a crime to have Russian books and to speak the Russian language in Ukraine, Facts matter Johan. Ukraine since 2014 has enabled laws targeting Russian language and culture, there is a word to describe that. Cultural Genocide.
          A pogrom against Russian culture akin to the similar pogrom against Jews in WW2. 1.5 Million Jews that perished in the Holocaust died in Ukraine mainly at the hands of the Ukrainian far right, the exact same far right that now openly worships Stephan Bandera the notorious Neo Nazi, names streets after him and erects statues to him since 2014, this is verifiable.
          (Government supported) and has yearly torch lit marches to him every year on his birthday. Azov and other Neo Nazi units embedded in the Ukrainian forces since the maidan Western backed coup openly worship Bandera and other WW2 Neo Nazis.
          Bullshit you say, Ukraine cant possibly be Fascist? Zelenskys a Jew. The sad reality is that the crack head President lost control a long time ago and that any peace would result in a bullet to the head, that’s been clearly stated by the far right.

          • Where do you get this crazy information from FG? It is not a crime to speak Russian or have Russian books in Ukraine. You are exaggerating the issue out of all proportion. For God’s sake Zelensky speaks Russian in his addresses. It is his first language after all. Most if not all the coverage we have from East Ukraine features Russian speakers both civilians and military.
            Ignorance is bliss eh Finngrin?!

      • Stop being so simplistic Francesca.
        Putin has promoted the strongman image since he came to power. Now that image has been dented. Putin promoted his lackeys so they would fight with each other hence Prigozhin v. Shoigu. But Prigozhin overstepped the mark by going after Shoigu, this threatened Putin who fled for the hills. Putin is a coward but a repressive coward.

    • Nuclear laced lemonade

      Putin has sent nuclear weapons to Belarus.

      Putin has sent Prigozhin and his mercenary army to Belarus.

      Sounds like a recipe for disaster if you asked me.

      Lukashenko said on Tuesday that his country offered Wagner fighters an abandoned military base. “Please – we have a fence, we have everything – put up your tents,” Lukashenko said, according to BELTA.
      The prospect of Wagner establishing a base in Belarus was greeted with alarm by some of its neighbours. Latvia and Lithuania called for NATO to strengthen its eastern borders in response, and Polish President Andrzej Duda described the move a “negative signal”.

      A “negative signal” would be putting it mildly

      Prigozhin’s battle hardened mercenary fighters took over two Russian cities and the military command centre of the Russian army based in Rostov-On-Don. As well as this Wagner’s battle hardened fighters got within spitting distance of the Kremlin, shooting down several Russian war planes that tried to oppose their advance. Prigozhin wasn’t turned back by the Russian army, he voluntarily withdrew his mercenary fighters, to “prevent further bloodshed”.

      In light how easily Wagner fighters took over two Russian cities. and the military command centre for the Russian army in Rostov-on-Don.
      For Wagner’s battle hardened fighters to take control of the nuclear weapons stationed in Belarus would be a walk in the park.

      Putin confirmed that Russia has deployed its first tranche of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, a plan that was announced earlier, but he gave an ambiguous assessment of Russia’s willingness to use them.
      “Nuclear weapons are created to ensure our security in the broadest sense of the word and the existence of the Russian state. But we, firstly, do not have such a need,” Putin said.

      Putin may not have such a need but Prigozhin does. (Even if it is just to save his own neck).

      Armed with nuclear weapons Prigozhin could dictate his own terms to Putin, to Lukashenko, to Zelensky, to anyone, or else.

      If Prigozhin leveled Kiev with a tactical nuclear weapon, it is possible that he would be greeted as a hero in Russia.

      If Prigozhin’s mercenary forces can capture the tactical nukes stationed in Belarus, it is possible that Prigozhin could become the most successful warlord on the Russian Steppes since Genghis Khan.

      • You are hysterical. I know Ben is leading the way here, but tacking your feverish takes on to random comments does not make then rational. It does not matter how many articles you link, Pat, you have demonstrated you lack sufficiently broad and critical awareness to interpret events with any accuracy.

        Where you are right is that we are at a nuclear precipice. The Western media continues – somehow, despite the vows of various american psychos – to deny that this is the result of a long planned provocation that threatens the existence of Russia. Russia openly states that, but gatekeepers like Ben dismiss it and do not report its truth. And regardless, the fact that Russia believes it is not a game. It’s a situation couples get into where one does not believe their words/actions are causing any harm and the other has to do something drastic, scream or smash or punch, to be heard.

        The invasion is the first smash of a vase. They won a month in, but then Nato stepped in. As Nato gives longer reach missiles to Ukraine, the more land Russia must take to unilaterally protect its security. When the provision necessitates a strike outside Ukraine, at the moment is only a matter of time. It remains to be seen if the next “scream” to listen from Russia will be inside Ukraine or not, nuclear or not.

        • I have to agree with him there Pat, you do appear to choose quotes and dubious sources to promote your biased worldview. Anti imperialism is good, however i do have an issue with your failure to recognize the obvious fact the arguably largest imperialist empire in history is directly responsible for the current conflict and continues to inflame the situation. Peace could have been achieved within the first month except the West promoted war yet again, when do we finally hold them accountable?
          Russia understand the true nature of the demonic west and is now acting accordingly.

    • Really in essence all it was is an employee dispute. Wagner paid by Russia threw their toys out of the cot because they had to sign a contract with the MOD, hardly surprising since it is against the Russians constitution to have a PMC fighting on Russian soil. The Donbas is legally part of Russia now.

      • Fingrinn the territorial claim you made re the Donbass is unrecognised by the vast majority of the world. Nato, China and all that really matter say the illegally occupied Ukranian territory still legally belongs to Ukraine. Russia has failed to occupy all the land they claim and is retreating slowly every day. It is just a matter of time until Russia is thrown out of Ukraine or sees the light and withdraws of their own accord. Putin made a serious miscalculation and never expected the level of resistance that occurred and is continuing to build. F16’s and ATACAM’s are on the way. How will Russia respond?

      • Don’t trivialise the issue FG. Prigozhin planned to arrest Shoigu and Gerasimov. What he intended to do with them is not hard to guess. The rumour was that a Shoigu PMC was moving in on Prigozhin’s turf in Africa.
        The support that Prigozhin got in Rostov would indicate that a full scale insurrection could have happened.
        Putin is weakened and as he is due for re-election next March, what price an anti-war candidate stands? Or will Putin declare martial law and postpone the elections?

  20. Nearly 4 weeks of offensive so far. Progress zilch, haven’t even breached Russian first lines of defense, stuck in grey zone. As suspected.


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