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Prigozhin's Siege Ends - Postmortem Analysis
Prigozhin has announced the end of his siege and that Wagner is leaving.
🇷🇺 🏴☠️ Prigozhin says it's over:
"They were going to dismantle PMC Wagner. We came out on 23 June to the March of Justice. In a day, we walked to nearly 200km away from Moscow. In this time, we did not spill a single drop of blood of our fighters. Now, the moment has come when blood may spill. That’s why, understanding the responsibility for spilling Russian blood on one of the sides, we are turning back our convoys and going back to field camps according to the plan."
Lukashenko is supposed to have carried out a long negotiations and reached some sort of agreement with Prigozhin. There was one claim showing Prigozhin denied this, but that came from a fake account pretending to be Prigozhin. The negotiations did appear to occur.
The most important thing you’ll first note is the following:
Prigozhin’s entire stated original justification for marching on and seizing Rostov was that “his camp was attacked” by Russian missile, artillery, and helicopter strikes. Remember?
Now, if you’ll note, he changed his tune and the stated reason for the march was that Wagner was to be completely disbanded by the Russian MOD on June 23. Recall my analysis from yesterday which gave this very reason where I said that Wagner had refused to sign the contract and was likely under ultimatum pressure from the MOD.
But, notice there’s no longer any mention of the “attack” which looked highly staged and fake as being the justification. So—is this a smoking gun that clearly proves that Prigozhin’s “attack” video from yesterday was an entirely staged falseflag?
If that’s the case, then clearly this has major ramifications for Prigozhin’s credibility from this point forward, wouldn’t you say?
Anyway, he says that no blood was spilled, at least on the Wagner side in his speech above—yesterday he claimed that there were “many casualties” and the Russian strikes massacred his troops. But today, it was Prigozhin who appeared to have carried out a massacre as he destroyed a confirmed 7 total Russian aircraft with the initial reports stating that all pilots died:
So, Wagner and Prigozhin are potentially responsible for something like 20-30 Russian pilot/crewmen deaths. Here were some of the battles.
A Ka-52 showcases its Vitebsk L-370 DIRCM system as it avoids a Wagner Strela AD missile:
And here a Ka-52 reportedly strikes a Wagner convoy with a 9K121 Vikhr missile:
Before we get to the next portion, to summarize how the day went so that everyone can understand the events, allow me to quickly recount them.
Upon arriving in Rostov, Prigozhin took control of the southern military district’s command, and in essence held the top two generals hostage, Yunus-bek Yevkurov and Aleskeev while demanding to see Shoigu and Gerasimov:
During the talk he accused them of betrayal for abandoning Kherson, Lyman, and various regions.
He also gave this statement:
Next, Prigozhin apparently sent a smaller convoy led by his top deputy Dmitry Utkin towards Moscow. It appeared that the Kremlin was partly allowing them to come as perhaps a negotiations was setup and Utkin was to be Prigozhin’s mediator. The reason there’s some evidence for this is at least in part of the way, the convoy was being escorted by Russian police near Moscow, at least according to one video.
However, Russian civilians, police, and other institutions took matters into their own hands, blockading all the roads leading to Moscow. Police were seen requisitioning truck driver’s trucks and taking their keys then using the trucks to block the roadways. However, it is said Wagner’s forces barreled through such barricades unimpeded:
Russian construction crews began to dig up highways and roads to stop Wagner’s convoy:
Meanwhile, Wagner billboards and anything to do with Wagner came down all over the country:
And the reports claimed that Prigozhin had taken up a position in a deep bunker in Rostov while Utkin headed the convoy towards Moscow, claiming that Prigozhin was afraid of being struck by Kinzhal/Iskander missiles:
In short, he had become a warlord of sorts with his own fiefdom:
Reports at this time claimed that the Kremlin was deliberately avoiding bloodshed by not ordering major attacks on the convoy, which gave credence to the idea that Utkin was being allowed to come for a mediation:
Of course, this does not explain the Ka-52 attacks and shootdowns, but that happened much earlier and was likely before a deal was struck to have a negotiations.
Also, a huge convoy of Chechen Akhmat forces were sent to potentially stop Wagner:
In the background of all this, the Lukashenko negotiations were being carried out and they ended up reaching an agreement. At the time of this writing there are rumors that Shoigu (and possibly Gerasimov) are in fact getting the axe, but this could be completely fake. For instance:
A source close to PMC Wagner: In addition to the resignation of Shoigu, it is also planned to change a number of FSB generals, including the head of the FSB for Moscow and the Moscow Region Alexei Dorofeev, today the Moscow defense system passed a stress test in case of a sudden invasion of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the direction of Moscow, none of the heads of regional The UFSB, including the capital, did not pass this test, and if Prigozhin had not turned around, then shedding blood, as he puts it, he would have entered Moscow. Further, with such a leaky defense system, the war with Ukraine cannot be continued, now there will be serious reshuffles, both in the Ministry of Defense and in the FSB.
In fact, some are theorizing that the entire operation was to root out traitors in Moscow:
Could it be?
Other rumors continue to come in, which are supported by the fact that neither Shoigu or Gerasimov have been seen anywhere during this entire episode nor have made any public statements, while other top generals have:
—"Wagner PMC" troops will be incorporated into and merged with the Russian Armed Forces.
—Gerasimov and Shoigu will resign, to be replaced by Surovikin (as Chief of Staff) and Dyumin, Governor of Tula, highly respected in the Russian Armed Forces, who played a key role the Crimea operation that led to the Republic's reunification with Russia (as Minister of Defence).
—Criminal proceedings against Prigozhin will be terminated, and "Wagner PMC" fighters will be given immunity.
The most complete version of the terms of this resolution has been published by @Condottieros, but various details have been reiterated by other sources.
And as of this writing, Peskov has confirmed that all criminal charges will be dropped against Wagner and that Prigozhin has accepted a deal to essentially be ‘exiled’ to Belarus, where Wagner will work on the Polish-Belarus border. Remaining Wagner members who did not take part in the putsch will be signed over into the Russian armed forces directly.
This much is now confirmed fact.
The big question on everyone’s mind though is, was there a deal involved, i.e. for Shoigu and/or Gerasimov? Peskov stated that “no personnel changes” for the MOD were discussed in the negotiations, so the official Kremlin line is “no”.
However, there remains a chance that the real deals will be kept quiet, and perhaps Shoigu et al will be placed in different administrative positions to be announced much later on when things have settled down so as not to cause more distractions and demoralization.
So, what are we left with? Wagner officially ceases to exist in Ukraine. Everyone is jumping to conclusions without knowing all the facts or details, so I will not say anything “definitive” apart from conjecture, speculation, and my own personal analysis on potentialities.
Here are some possibilities of the current situation we’re left with:
1. If we take everything at face value, and this was simply exactly what it seemed, and there are no hidden or underhanded deals, then one thing we can say is that Russia may have just suffered a major demoralizing blow. Putin and his command may have been gravely weakened due to the perception that Prigozhin “won” and no one was punished for what he did.
Upwards of 20-30 Russian servicemen died today and Peskov just announced that all criminal charges will be dropped. Secondly, it perceptually looks like Putin simply allowed an adversarial enemy force to invade Russia almost all the way up to Moscow without much reprisal and without even much successful rebuffing of the force.
It could potentially leave Putin politically weakened, with trust in his leadership and Russian MOD command in general dipping much lower. In many ways, at no point during the episode did Putin really look particularly strong nor ‘in charge’, as he merely released one video and Lukashenko ended up saving the situation.
2. The second interpretation is that this could have been a healthy and much-needed event to blow off excessive steam, so to speak, and fix certain organizational problems. However, this can only work if there’s any substance to rumors that major personnel changes will commence as a result of this. In short, if this whole thing was partly Putin’s scheme to clear the ranks, then this could leave Russia much stronger after the dust settles. Unfortunately, we won’t know until there are more definitive details of what exactly transpired or what deals may have been made.
Also, as to problem of criminal charges and culpability for the killing of Russian servicemen, there is one important point everyone is missing. We don’t have all the details and so it’s difficult to truly know how the MOD views the situation. For instance, a rogue commander may have ordered the helicopter attacks on Wagner columns without authorization, which would legally absolve Wagner from retaliating after they had already been attacked.
Secondly, the issue of Russian forces allegedly attacking Wagner yesterday is not resolved. If, for instance, it were to be proven true that Wagner was attacked by Russian forces (perhaps, again, some kind of rogue commander without higher up authorization), then this would create a very sensitive and intractable problem for the MOD as they may find it tricky to accuse Wagner of shooting down attacking helicopters when Wagner itself was just illegally attacked.
Here’s one analysis:
"About helicopters. And responsibility.
My personal opinion. Those who led them - woe commanders.
Sending helicopters to columns stuffed to the teeth with weapons, including air defense vehicles and MANPADS, is a suicidal action. This order is tantamount to an order to send planes now to bomb Kyiv.
Who ever decided that it would be any effective? Destroy a couple of machines out of a thousand?
I believe that the one who decided to use helicopters against the Wagner columns bears full responsibility for the "result".
The bombing of bridges, on which civilians are breaking, by planes .... this is generally a clinic."
Also, there was one initial report—which admittedly could be false and has never been verified—that the Russian commanders who initially sent the attack choppers to hit the Wagner column in fact told the helicopter pilots that this was an AFU incursion. In effect, that would mean they lied to and tricked the pilots by pretending that Ukraine was invading. If that’s true, then how much culpability do we assign to each side?
Recall, just last month a Russian commander of the 72nd brigade admitted on video to an attempt at blowing up and shooting Wagner forces. Thus, it’s possible that the Russian MOD has determined that other rogue forces did in fact attack Wagner yesterday, which could result in Wagner getting off with a wrist-slap for today’s events due to the perceived major illegal provocation done unto them yesterday.
Of course, some will argue that no matter what was done to them, one majorly illegal act cannot justify another. And that is probably true. But I’m simply giving some possibilities as to the MOD’s reasoning in order to understand the situation.
Ultimately, though, if nothing overt is shown, no kind of benefit they may have gained from the deal, then it’s undeniable that the Russian MOD and Putin in particular will look extremely weak after this. The FSB and prosecutor’s office outright declared Prigozhin and Wagner as insurrectionists for god’s sake, and had already written up a criminal case against them. Is that all to be suddenly swept under the rug like it never happened? It needs no saying that this creates an incredibly dangerous precedent for future armed insurrectionists to take a chance at toppling Russia.
So it leaves me with the thought that it couldn’t have been all for nothing, and that some secret deal was struck we don’t know about. And we know that Prigozhin appeared to really only have one demand: Shoigu and Gerasimov’s head. So logic dictates that the only thing which could have conceivably satiated him enough to strike the deal would be their removal. And like I said, in order not to create too much tumult, this could be kept under wraps for a while, then we may realize weeks or months later that no one has seen Shoigu in public for a long time, which will confirm things.
And by the way, if you want to be confused even more by the situation, particularly for those people who’ve taken a preemptively righteous and moralizing stance on the situation, you should see the footage of Wagner packing up and leaving Rostov. Prepare to have your mind blown. The Russian citizens are not only wildly cheering Prigozhin and rushing to give him hand shakes as he leaves, but they chant “Wagner, Wagner!” in a chorus while clapping and feting them as heroes as Wagner departs:
There’s even a video purporting to show citizens with Wagner banners yelling ‘traitors’ at the newly arrived Russian authorities/police, after Wagner had left.
It’s a very complex situation. Possibilities include: the populace continues to view Wagner as heroes; the populace, as many have noted previously, hate Shoigu and side with Wagner over him in the conflict.
Some have wondered last time, by the way, why Shoigu is said to be hated. There are three main reasons:
Everyone knows that he never served in the armed forces. He worked in civil engineering and served as a minister of the emergency services from the early 90s to around 2012 when he was appointed by Putin to the Minister of Defense position
Some believe his tenure has shown incompetence and stagnation as there were some high profile scandals revolving around Russian arms manufacturers at the time, like the near failure of Russia’s premier Kurganmashzavod company (responsible for Russia’s BMP line of armored vehicles, amongst other things) which had to be purchased by Rostec in an emergency deal so as to save the company from total collapse
The recent scandals revolving around his daughter have put a bad taste in many peoples’ mouths. His daughter’s boyfriend is a liberal who posts poor-taste photos from Dubai and various glitzy beaches while sometimes implying an anti-Russian bias. I believe he “liked” several pro-Ukrainian posts on social media, and things of that nature. Not to mention that Shoigu’s daughter and wife help run certain things for the Russian MOD and there is perceived nepotism and corruption
With that said, I don’t have actual data that Shoigu is hated by an overwhelming majority of the populace. In fact, there are some serious counter-claims that can be made for Shoigu being responsible for a golden age of Russian military-industrial achievement in the post 2010+ era where he inherited a very mismanaged armed forces. With that said, that era is also when all the famed modern systems like the Su-57s, Armata tanks, Kurganets IFVs, and many more, were all supposed to be rolled out and mass produced, and they infamously stagnated with nothing being built—so I’m not sure, exactly, how much good Shoigu did in that regard.
Lastly, I wanted to posit one final theory and important overarching point. There was something that began to occur to me during the course of the day. And that was at a certain point it looked more and more to me like Prigozhin’s stunt was actually a full-blown Western coup aimed at toppling Putin. Let me explain why.
Firstly, there were rumors that Prigozhin was actually working with some liberal oligarchs who want to end the war entirely. Recall that Prigozhin openly lied recently by stating the entire Donbass conflict was begun by oligarchs who “wanted war” when in reality it’s the complete opposite, evidenced by the fact many oligarchs outright fled Russia at the start of the SMO, turning into anti-Russian propagandists in their new homes abroad.
Secondly, even Medvedev released a statement earlier today that it appears likely that “Western intel services are working with Prigozhin”.
Next, proof was released that this was actually a very well planned out operation, not some ‘spontaneous’ action—which further discredits Prigozhin’s original justification that he only did this because his positions were ‘bombed by Russian forces’ yesterday, posting the clearly staged video of some burning leaves. The evidence was the release of text messages showing that Wagner was actually trying to bribe Russian special operations forces into not only joining their rebellion but to give up secrets and details about the Russian MOD:
These messages were from over two weeks ago. That means at the minimum this operation was two weeks in the making, but it could be even far longer. However, there is the possibility that the messages were fakes from Ukrainian SBU-linked operatives trying to bait Russian servicemen.
Two weeks before the Wagner rebellion, regular troops on the front line received letters from people who, in their words, “work in the interests of PMCs.” They offered to pay for compromising information on the army.
And this Friday they offered to “choose a side” and report on the orders received.
Photo correspondence from familiar spetsnaz. We worked with them more than once, I have no doubts about the authenticity. The question is, did they write the truth about PMCs or is it the work of the TsIPSO's paws (which, in my opinion, is more likely), which are now spinning the crisis with might and main in their favor. Both options play into the hands of the enemy only.
By the way, the auto-translation didn’t work well on those images, so I’ll post the originals too just in case someone wants to make their own try:
So, there’s strong chance Prigozhin staged an outright falseflag with yesterday’s ‘attack’ video. This simply gives us a base grounding in the fact that he’s full of deception; though, of course, that’s not something most of us needed to be convinced of, anyway.
But my point is, there’s another very key piece of evidence. You see, in his new ‘demands’ during the siege, he reportedly claimed to want to cleanse the Russian MOD in order to make the SMO stronger to “really fight” against Ukraine, rather than the soft velvet-glove approach currently employed.
However, the problem with this is, you may recall that during the last days of Bakhmut’s capture, when Prigozhin’s crying was at its peak, he actually openly stated multiple times that the SMO should be ended. I have the receipts, you can see for yourself:
From April 15, 2023:
Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner Group and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, urged the Russian leader to end his ongoing "special military operation" in Ukraine and focus instead on strengthening his country's grip on the territories it occupied in the Eastern European country.
"For the [Russian] authorities and for society as a whole, today it is necessary to put a decisive end to the special military operation. The ideal option is to announce the end of the special military operation, to inform everyone that Russia has achieved the results that it planned, and in a sense we have actually achieved them," Prigozhin wrote in a blog article posted on Telegram on Friday that was shared and translated by Ukrainian news outlet Pravda.
This is a major, major problem in poor Priggy’s cover story. He thought he was so clever, but you can’t outwit ol’ Simplicius.
So, we know that he previously has vociferously urged for the SMO to be ended. But we’re now supposed to believe that today he wanted merely to “strengthen” the SMO by shooting down Russian helicopters and sacking Shoigu?
Thus, my other more sinister theory is born:
The entire production was in fact an oligarch-funded, perhaps Western-backed coup that was meant to topple Putin. Shoigu and Gerasimov were merely the cover to convince Wagner troops to march on the Kremlin. You see, Shoigu provides a brilliantly convenient target because troops are disgruntled with him. So all Priggy had to do was tell his troops we’re going to take out Shoigu and hand over the reins to Putin and it was easy convincing.
However, this may have always been a performance. You see, once the troops were to have marched to the Kremlin with him, he could position a few thousand of them as a cordon around the Kremlin itself. Then, a much smaller vanguard of his absolute most trustworthy, diehard, and fanatical revolutionaries—Dmitry Utkin surely has these under him—would have walked into the Kremlin with Prigozhin under the guise of “going to arrest Shoigu”.
But the next time the outside Wagner troops would see Prigozhin emerge from the Kremlin would be on the balcony, hailing them with the crown on his head as the new ruler of Russia. Because the idea all along was to use this facade to overthrow Putin and take control for himself.
Now, I’m not saying that this was definitively the plan. But, during the course of the day it did begin to strike me more and more as a distinct possibility, given the vast amounts of inconsistencies in Prigozhin’s “rock-solid” principles and justifications for his actions.
However, something may have gone wrong. Once he reached Rostov he may have realized the plan was unworkable. For instance, the Russian MOD did release a statement at some point stating that a large portion of the Wagner troops actually laid down their arms and returned to their positions because they realized they were misled. You see, it turns out—according to the MOD, at least—that Prigozhin lied to a lot of the troops and told them that they were going to protect Belgorod and were simply being re-routed through Rostov. They reportedly didn’t even know what it was they were partaking in.
Alexander Khodakovsky, the Vostok Brigade founder, believes that Wagner's rank and file were not privy to the command's plans - most of them, anyway.
The fighters were told that they were being transferred to defend the Belgorod region, and they were quite surprised by the course of events. According to reports from around the rebels, the Wagner leadership's plans also included the capture of Krasnodar.
So once a large part of them gave up and Prigozhin saw he didn’t have enough manpower to take out Putin, he would have likely given up and began negotiations for a way out. The only question of course would be why would Putin give him such a way out, knowing what the real likely plan was. But don’t jump to too many conclusions yet—this tale is not yet over. For all we know, the Russian MOD/FSB/etc. are just biding their time and may yet arrest or even liquidate him. We’ll have to see how things unfold and then adjust our theories accordingly.
But one thing you’ve got to admit is that the timing of this putsch is extremely favorable towards the above theory. At exactly the point of the AFU’s weakest moment and near-collapse on the battlefield he chose to strike Russia in the back as if obviously driven by a hidden hand; it appears to make sense. He may have relied on other oligarchs and hidden sympathizers in the Kremlin to have risen up against Putin at a key moment during the struggles, but they may have gotten cold feet and the plan turned sour.
By the way, there were several reports from sources connected to the IRGC of Iran, that during the peak of the crisis, Iran was willing to send Shiite forces or revolutionary guards to Moscow.
❗️Iranian IRGC resources write: “We saved Assad, we will also save Putin”
Here is another proof that we will be restless. When Iran tries to help Russia and Putin, the West will do everything to distract Iran from this as much as possible. They can be distracted as much as possible by a military conflict in the Armenian Syunik.
Not to mention this:
I suppose you find out who your true friends are during times of crisis.
Now, let’s see how forgiving Putin is.
I leave you with some photos of Wagner troops during the Rostov siege, and this excerpt from Tyutchev’s famous poem, which perfectly encapsulates recent events:
“Who would grasp Russia with the mind?
For her no yardstick was created:
Her soul is of a special kind,
By faith alone appreciated.”
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