Wagner Uprising: Mutiny, Propaganda Operation, or Colour Revolution? – WWIII Prelude News 24/06/2023
Yevgeny Prigozhin, “leader” of the Wagner Private Military Company, has declared war on his own country’s military high-command, stating that the progress of the war is not fast enough and is costing Russian lives by allowing Ukraine to regroup their forces. Videos, photos, and claims abound, but the law of “the fog of war” applies to this situation as much as it does to any other military events in Ukraine. Let’s explore what we do know and theorise on the rest.
What We DO Know:
- Prigozhin has indeed expressed his intent to march to Moscow to depose the Russian military high command.
- President Putin acknowledged the situation at 9am local time, issuing this statement.
- Wagner fighters have captured the military command HQ overseeing the war in Rostov-on-Don, south-east of Donetsk.
- The HQ was captured in hopes of detaining Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, but he left the area before that could happen.
- Commander Surovikin, friend of Prigozhin, has published a video asking him to quit his campaign.
- Operation isn’t targeted at President Putin or his government – Prigozhin has always approved of the government and continues to do so. So, this isn’t a coup.
- Prigozhin refuses to take orders from any authority until his job is done. All authorities in Russia have been ordered to arrest him.
- The strength of Wagner stands at about 25,000 men – this is compared to about 1 million mobilised Russian troops.
- Supplies to front line disrupted by Russia’s blockade of the road to Moscow.
- Chechen forces on route to Rostov-on-Don to suppress rebellion.
- Prigozhin demands civilians move 2km from military HQ – recent explosion could have been a controlled explosion to enforce this order.
Wagner has captured Rostov-on-Don without any shots fired, however an explosion has just been reported in the city. This explosion does indeed appear to be from this morning and in Rostov-on-Don, but it stands as a good example of the fog of war. Multiple photos and videos have been circulating online of fighting and explosions, with many of them proven to be old and/or from different places than claimed. Fighting probably is occuring somewhere, but where and to what degree is something we really can’t know without rigorous inspection of the photos and footage. We must remember that there are people, groups, and whole countries who will take this opportunity to paint a more sinister and chaotic picture.
Prigozhin has announced his troops will march on Moscow, rectify the situation by deposing Russian high-command, and then return to the front line to defend the country. This is… insane. If this isn’t some kind of clever Russian rouse, this man is out of his f*cking mind. Ignoring the fact that disrupting the war effort, at what he himself claims is a critical juncture, will cost even more Russian lives – his claimed objective is physically impossible: His men number at 25,000; he doesn’t have transport capabable of carrying any meaningful number of them; Moscow is a 9 day walk away, without factoring in ANY disruptions, so the campaign would take weeks; Wagner doesn’t have air support.
What Could Be Happening?
As I’ve stated above, Prigozhin would have to be insane to think he could pull this off. So let’s be kind to him and pose alternatives.
- Prigozhin Switched Sides: After more than 6 months of complaining about the Russian high command, the Western media has begun to praise Prigozhin because it fits their narrative of a weakend Russia. He may have been offered support if he stages a mutiny.
- Propaganda exercise: These past months could very well have been an on-going propaganda operation to lull Ukrainians into a false sense of ground superiority over the Russian front line troops. This theory has substance as Ukraine has completely stalled their “spring/summer counteroffensive” after engaging the Russians with far too few troops and equipment. Prigozhin may or may not be aware of his role. He may simply be allowed to spout off by the Russian establishment because he conveniently fits this purpose.
- “Self-coup”: A clever term coined this morning by the youtuber Argent, this may be a coup organised in tandem with Putin to help him consolidate power.
- Problem-Reaction-Solution: This may be entirely orchestrated by Russia to “bring the war home” and justify full mobilisation in order to finish off the war.
- Putin-Prigozhin Rouse: The two met this month on the 14th. This gives a little weight to Argent’s “self-coup” idea, but it also introduces another possibility. By transporting the whole of Wagner to Moscow Oblast, Russia could open a Northern front with the Russian regular troops on the Russia-Ukraine border and (possibly) Belarusian troops on the Belarus-Ukraine border.