Showing posts with label Wagner group. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Wagner group. Show all posts

June 25, 2023

Too soon to tell if Russian revolt was a nothing burger, an everything burger, or something in between


Photo of his delicious everything burger by author who is always seeking restaurants and pubs with mouthwatering burgers like the one above.

By Hal Brown

This is a follow-up to yesterday's blog where I took off my shrink's hat and delved into an area where if I actually had degree in foreign policy it would be from Trump University. I titled that blog "Is the Wagner group waging an armed mutiny, a civil war in the making, uprising, a coup, the bringing of the self-destruction of Russia, or a a spurious threat, basically a nothing-burger" which really isn't worth reading today if you missed it.

I was struck by how the media jumped all over the missing Titanic sub with near constant coverage of four rich men and the unfortunate son (who didn't really want to go) facing death. I compared this to how the Baby Jessica in the well story and the Thai soccer team trapped in the cave stories captured worldwide attention.

This Russia story was both riveting and of major international significance. It received well-deserved extensive media coverage... except on Fox News online.

This morning pundits who actually have expertise in the subject are trying to explain what this all means. The chyron under the stories about this on MSNBC reads "Aftermath of Armed Revolt Inside Russia."

On that channel John Brennan, former CIA director, and retired admiral James Stavidis, and former ambassadors to Russia Michael McFaul and Jane Harmon, among others are explaining what this all may mean for the fate of Putin and Ukraine.

As someone whose expertise lies elsewhere I am ill equipped to pontificate on this, or predict what it may portend. I am fascinated by way two characters, both ruthless warlords who could be in a novel or TV series can hold sway over the outcome of a war. Game of Thrones, which I never watched has been mentioned, with a pundit saying that the
moral of this story is that if you try to kill the king you'd best succeed, or else.


So you don't have to look at Fox News online, this is what they think is important today:

Even Breitbart leads with the Russia story:

Here's the MSNBC website...

and The Washington Post, The New York Times, and CNN:

Adendum: By chance this was the ad that was on HUFFPOST when I looked at it (ON LOWER RIGHT)

I just had to do a little photo-manipulation:

Updates: It is worth noting a few points David Ignatius made in his Washington Post column (subscription): 

Putin looked into the abyss Saturday — and blinked

"This was a real coup, until it wasn’t."

  • President Vladimir Putin looked into the abyss Saturday and blinked. After vowing revenge for what he called an “armed mutiny,” he settled for a compromise.
  • The speed with which Putin backed down suggests that his sense of vulnerability might be higher even than analysts believed. Putin might have saved his regime Saturday, but this day will be remembered as part of the unraveling of Russia as a great power — which will be Putin’s true legacy.
  • This was a real coup, until it wasn’t...
  • Only madmen jump into the abyss in situations like this, and neither Putin nor Prigozhin is crazy. This was like a game of chicken where both cars swerve in the end, or a duel where both fighters shoot in the air, to fight another day.  
  • It was a close shave, not a decapitation.

  • What comes next, surely, is more trouble for Putin in Ukraine. Prigozhin told the truth flat out in the days before his march on Moscow. Ukraine didn’t threaten Russia, and Russia’s invasion was unnecessary — a mistake of epic proportions. Even Putin, the ice man, can’t freeze the burning truth of his Ukraine disaster.

MSNBC is covering the Russia story exclusively. I did what I hardly ever do and tuned into Fox News to see what they were broadcasting. They are covering a variety of other news:

If you don't see Disquis (the preferred comment feature) below, click here and scroll down.

June 24, 2023

Is the Wagner group waging an armed mutiny, a civil war in the making, uprising, a coup, the bringing of the self-destruction of Russia, or a a spurious threat, basically a nothing-burger?



With the invasion apparently stopped and the convoy which was headed towards Moscow turned around, and some unknown resolution reached between Prighozin and Putin, we still don't know whether this will turn out to have been a nothing burger, all roll and no burger.

By Hal Brown

Is this the most credible threat to Putin since the start of his regime?

Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin says that Ukraine never was a threat to Russia.
Scroll down for updates - compared to last night we know much more than we did then.

The following paragraph (with strike-throughs) has been updated from when I wrote this early this morning. 

We don't  didn't know much more about what's was happening in Russia this morning than we did last night even though the stories are were all over the news, for example on MSNBC and in HUFFPOST...

... and in the two newspapers of record in the United States which only occasionally have the same top of the page stories:

The words being used to try to make sense of this include whether this represents a civil war in the making, an uprising, a coup, the bringing of the self-destruction of Russia, or on the other hand a spurious threat which would make it basically a newsworthy nothing-burger, albeit a dramatic one.

One thing is for certain, not only is this making the news internationally, but it led Vladimir Putin to address the nation, and hence the world, in a 5 ½ minute speech.

Here's a time I wish could understand Russian and listen to him without the halting English dubbing in the video shared on Sky TV. You can see his facial expressions along with the words which he seems to be carefully reading off a teleprompter. 

I expect members of our and other intelligence agencies who are fluent in Russian have been intensively analyzing this video to attempt to discern just how worried Putin is behind the bravado of his words as he tries to convey confident seriousness as he says Russia is fighting for the life and security of its citizens and its territorial integrity, and for the millennial  history of the country.

A retired general on MSNBC, by far more of an expert than I am, is none-the-less trying to discern whether this is a coup in the making which could bring major changes to Russia. He noted that much would depend whether a significant number of the regular Russian military units remain loyal to Putin.

Of grave concern is what would happen to Russian's nuclear threat if the instability led to the nuclear unthinkable. Putin has been all bluster when it came to threatening to use tactical nukes against Ukraine. If his hold on power is tenuous, while I haven't heard experts express this concern, I wonder if he would take, or attempt to take, this drastic and highly risky step. I wonder whether if he attempted to do this his own generals would mount a coup of their own to stop him.

On MSNBC, Evelyn Farkas, American national security advisor, author, and foreign policy analyst, just said the Wagner situation was incredibly serious. She called it the biggest threat Putin has ever faced.

Also on MSNBC, Congressman Gerry Connelly (a Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee) said it could be the beginning of the unraveling of the Putin regime, that it could be a really serious threat to Putin's remaining in power. He did say there are no good guys in this, that Prigozhin is a  brutal murderous thug. He justified the killing of a recaptured deserter with a sledge hammer.

This is a "stay tuned and wait" story where the outcome will be decided in a matter of weeks if not days. In its significance it is about as far removed from the story which just played out about the Titanic OceanGate disaster which I wrote about on June 21st as any news story could be.

It may not be too soon to imagine Russia without Putin. Nobody knows whether Prigozhin has designs on becoming the new Russian leader. He began his adult life as a run-of-the-mill criminal, ended up in prison for nine years, but bounced back and ran a very successful catering business, became close to Putin, ran a troll farm to influence the US 2016 election, and finally developed a mercenary army which by all reports is better than the Russian army. (Read more about him on Wikipedia.)

Down the road is it possible to have major, or even minimal, positive changes in relations between Russia under new leadership with Putin out of the picture and democratic countries with another sociopathic leader running the country?

Prigozhin could end up as a more pragmatic Russian leader to deal with than Putin who seems to have descended into the realm of delusions. Perhaps in Prigozhin Russia could have a leader not obsessed with restoring the nationalist  glory of the former Soviet Union and make the country more like China with its dictator deciding to compete with the West economically.


Click above to read


Prigozhin said his fighters would not surrender, as “we do not want the country to live on in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.”

“Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president was deeply mistaken. We are patriots of our homeland,” he said in an audio message on his Telegram channel.

Amazing! Trump just got some bigots pissed off. By Hal Brown, MSW

  I had to read the RawStory article shown above three times to figure out what happened. Trump was showing his supposed support for law enf...