The Prigozhin’s insurrection farce is over. I had predicted that it would not take long to end:
In twelve or so hours things are likely to have calmed down.
About eight hours after I published the above Prigozhin had given up and left the scene.
Prigozhin had launched his hopeless mutiny after the Defense Ministry had demanded that all his men sign contacts with the Russian army. That would have taken away the autonomy of his Wagner outlet and with it a large chunk of his profits. The run of his troops towards Moscow was a desperate attempt to get Putin’s attention and to make him reverse the ministry’s plans.
To justify his move Prigozhin had claimed that Russian miliary forces had attacked a Wagner camp and killed a number of its troops. To prove that he published a video that shows some trash in the woods but no dead soldiers. It was an obvious fake.
Putin had already publicly agreed to the ministry’s plans and he is not the man who reverses his decisions on a dime, or under pressure. After Putin’s Saturday morning TV speech, during which he accused Prigozhin of treason without naming him, it was clear that there was no chance for the mutiny to have any success. Many of Russia’s governors and high ranking military soon assured Putin publicly of their loyalty.
As far as is known none of Wagner’s military commanders and only a few thousand of its 25,000 troops had joined Prigozhin in his lunatic run. No one in Russia changed sides or supported him. When the Wagner troops entered Rostov on the Don the people who talked with his soldiers were critical of their presence. When Wagner were leaving without further bloodshed the people applauded. To interpret that as support for Prigozhin, as some ‘western’ analysts did, is false. The people were just happy that the whole stunt was over.
Finally the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, likely on request from Putin, got Prigozhin on the phone, used some very strong words and negotiated a deal. If Prigozhin goes into exile in Belarus he will not be bothered any further. But the Russian prosecutors will not close the treason case against him. Should he again make a hassle he will likely end up in jail.
Prigozhin may be allowed to take some of his troops with him to Belarus. But the large majority will come under the command of the Russian military and will be transformed into some special unit. The French foreign legion may be a good example for such a force and its potential use….