Compliments to the Chef: Prigozhin’s Trouble Looks like Civil War [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. /~Rayne]

Moscow Times reported about four hours ago — roughly 4:00 p.m. ET / 11:00 p.m. Moscow and Kyiv time — that Russia’s Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) had filed charges against Putin’s chef, Yevgeny Prigozhin.

The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin was charged with “inciting an armed uprising” and military vehicles were deployed to the streets of Moscow and Rostov-on-Don after he made an extraordinary threat to “stop” Russia’s top military brass.

Prigozhin on Friday accused Russia’s military leadership of ordering strikes on Wagner’s camps and killing a “huge” number of forces.

In a tirade against the Defense Ministry, with whom he has been feuding publicly for months over the handling of the war in Ukraine, Prigozhin, 62, said Wagner’s leadership had determined that “the evil that the military leadership of the country brings must be stopped.”

Prigozhin had been infuriated by an attack on his Wagner group personnel by Russia, according to Bellingcat’s Aric Toler:

A Russian military blogger visited a Wagner base shortly before it was allegedly the target of a shelling attack, which Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin has blamed on the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD), although which the MOD has denied.

On the evening of June 23, a Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel posted the following message, which was soon-after shared by Prigozhin on his personal Telegram channel: “A missile attack was carried out on a PMC Wagner base. There are many casualties. According to the information of the fighters who are witnesses, the attack was carried out from a rear direction – that is, it was carried out by soldiers of the Russian Ministry of Defence.”

Nadin Brzezinski noted protective action under way in Moscow:

Moscow has mobilized Rosvgardia (National Guard) and Federal Protective Service, FSO troops. There are rumors that the Guard, or some formations, are picking up arms.

Voice of America’s Steve Herman confirmed RIA Novosti reported Moscow has been locked down.

The protective activity follows several statements Prigozhin made on Friday evening after release via social media platform Telegram of a video purportedly showing the effects of a Russian missile or missiles hitting Wagner group’s “rear camps,”

— Prigozhin said “A huge number of our fighters, our comrades-in-arms, died. We will decide how to respond to this atrocity. The next step is ours,” attributing the deaths to missile strikes by Russia’s Defense Ministry.

— Prigozhin’s press office released a recording in which Prigozhin said, “The evil that the military leadership of the country bears must be stopped. They neglect the lives of soldiers, they forgot the word “justice”, and we will return it. Therefore, those who destroyed our guys today, and tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers, will be punished…I ask everyone to remain calm, not to succumb to provocations, to stay in their homes, it is advisable not to go outside along the route of our journey. After we finish what we started, we will return to the front to defend our homeland. The presidential power, the government, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the National Guard and other structures will continue to work. We will deal with those who destroy Russian soldiers and return to the front.”

— “Shoigu just cowardly fled from Rostov. At 21:00, he ran cowardly, like a woman, so as not to explain why he raised helicopters to destroy our guys, why he launched missile strikes. This creature will be stopped,” Prigozhin said in his third statement, apparently blaming Russia’s Minister of Defence Sergei Shoigu directly for the missile attack.

Prigozhin and Shoigu have been in conflict since last fall, blaming Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov for both Russia’s military failures and for attacks on Wagner group personnel on the ground. He hasn’t held back with Putin about these problems.

Two to three hours ago — roughly 6:00-7:00 p.m. ET, 1:00-2:00 a.m. Moscow — Prigozhin said, “We are going farther. We will go to the end,” apparently referring to Wagner group personnel moving toward Rostov-on-Don, a city in western Russia located on the eastern tip of the Sea of Azov. The city is located about 110 miles east of Mariupol Ukraine and 270 miles northeast of Kerch in Crimea. Shoigu was alleged to be in Rostov-on-Don.

There is a lot of confusion internally as to the intent and meaning of Prigozhin’s statements and actions, much of it due to multiple messages across Russia’s military and political leadership. First deputy chief of the general staff of the armed forces Lt. General Vladimir Alekseev called it a coup. Deputy Commander Sergei Surovikin pleaded with Wagner group leadership to return to their positions before the missile attack.

~ ~ ~

Confusion reigns outside of Ukraine and Russia as well, at least inside the U.S.; while European news outlets are covering these developments in real time, U.S. outlets have been lagging.

ADDER: Snapshot from 8:00 p.m. ET of the top of Google News’ full coverage for Russia’s charges against Prigozhin and Prigozhin’s hostility toward Russian defense:

The New York Times may be the one exception; it has an aggregated feed of ongoing updates, thankfully with local times posted at the top.

There have been many observations that Twitter is now functionally useless for real time news when it had been the go-to platform before Twitter was acquired by Elon Musk.

The White House has been updated and is in a wait-and-see mode:

Joe Biden didn’t change his plans for the evening and attended an abortion rights event.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 9:30 A.M. 24-JUN-2023 —
Moscow is being fortified against Wagnerites:

See community member harpie’s comments beginning at 6:33 a.m. ET for a chronological rundown of developments overnight.

Prigozhin is no longer targeting only Shoigu and Gerasimov.

It says something that Russia’s deputy prime minister has bailed out of the country:

Meanwhile, in Ukraine:

Hoping for a bumper popcorn crop this season.

~ ~ ~

If there are updates to this piece they will appear at the bottom of this post.

131 replies
    • Rayne says:

      Fog of war, yes, thick as pea soup. Not helping matters that there are so many less-than-informed guessers guessing what’s happening, adding their froth to the fog.

      ADDER: LOL Rothrock’s post

    • wasD4v1d says:

      He’s turned around ‘according to the plan”, whatever that means unless the plan was to show them who’s boss but (ratifying Rayne), explicitly not president. Not the job he wants.

  1. Rayne says:

    Lot of speculation this effort if a coup will not succeed, depending on who you read.

    Not enough force with only 25,000 armed personnel — but then Shoigu has hollowed out Russia’s army and national guard with 100K losses, so there may not be enough personnel to repel Wagner.

    If Wagner group is Putin’s backstop after the massive losses in Ukraine, there won’t be much left to continue the war on Ukraine. Bellingcat reported on Nepali troops deployed to fight for Russia, which seems a real reach for warm bodies.

    • Ravenclaw says:

      Did Prigozhin intend a full-on coup d’etat when this began or hope for some bargain to prevent his Wagner forces from being brought under Ministry of Defense orders? I sure don’t know. But now that (a) Putin has denounced the effort, (b) the occupation of Rostov-on-Don hasn’t gotten the MoD to truckle to his demands, and (c) his armed column is cruising north toward Moscow by way of Voronezh, the die is well and truly cast. Okay, I’m speculating next, so feel free to bash me for it, but: Prigozhin’s forces can’t overcome determined opposition, even though most of the Russian military is bogged down in Ukraine. His only hope is for a Napoleon-returning-from-Elba scenario where the regime’s forces refuse to fight him or even rally to his side. His public statements claim that this is happening but may be make-believe. Watch whether Kadyrov’s forces actually attack him or not, because Kadyrov is as treacherous as they come and might join a coup he thought would succeed. And watch the National Guard. In retrospect, Prigozhin’s announcements for many months have laid the groundwork for ordinary Russians (like those in the Guard) to view him as the new strongman. But everything would have to go his way, or else he’ll taste the other end of his sledgehammer.

      • Rayne says:

        Look, dude, paragraph breaks are your friend. Use them. You’ve got at least three separate thoughts here and yet you’re running them together which makes you sound breathless.

        Putin’s reaction likely made Wagner’s final decision because he was only taking Rostov-on-Don (not to be confused with Rostov located NNE of Moscow) before Putin gave his +5 minute speech. After that it was far more obvious Wagner group was moving up the M4 to Moscow.

        With Shoigu fled, Gerasimov hiding, and Russian troops typically unable to take initiative to change course, there’s no good indication Putin-aligned Russia is mounting adequate defense.

        As for Kadyrov: now may be a good time to declare Chechya’s independence from Putin’s Russia. I guess we’ll wait and see.

    • Amicus12 says:

      Prigozhin gets his hands on a nuke (or several) the balance of force changes. Estimates of tactical nukes in Russia range from 500 or so to several thousand.

      • Rayne says:

        I don’t think Prigozhin wants that. If he wants any sheen of legitimacy within the Russian federation and the world, he doesn’t go that far.

        The move of tactical nukes to Belarus may have played a role, though. If they’re outside Russia and Lukashenko isn’t there to control them, they’re not likely to be deployed against either Ukraine or Wagnerites, making it easier for Prigozhin to make a move.

        • Ruthie2the says:

          I read Amicus’ comment as implying not that Prigozhin might use a tactical nuke, simply that his possession of one would change the equation in his favor.

          • Rayne says:

            And I said I don’t think he wants that. Merely taking possession of the tactical nukes once moved looks bad.

            • Norskeflamthrower says:

              So far your take on this has proven pretty spot on and I believe your take on Pigrozhin…oops sorry, Prigozhin…makes a lotta sense ‘cuz in my opinion he is just a bit to the right of Hitler. At least I hope your take on him proves correct.

  2. JAFO_NAL says:

    Videos have been posted online of a Wagner convoy driving around a checkpoint in Rostov (tanks and all) with Russian troops standing by just watching.

  3. Patrick Carty says:

    Prigozhin denied he sought a coup but instead said they were on a path of justice. Regardless, this is going to get a lot more vicious in the coming days. 25,000 armed, angry and cornered personnel is the last thing Putin needs, but certainly everything he deserves.

  4. Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

    Also let’s not forget the convicts who competes their contracts and got released. How many of them are loose and ready to cause trouble and feel they owe Wagner a favor

  5. Rugger_9 says:

    How independent are these sources? Putin is well versed in the arts of misdirection, and since the SMO is going poorly he needs another distraction to round up the dissidents and other riff-raff. If this removes Prig from the scene so much the better for Vlad since I’m quite sure Prig has worn out his welcome.

    The report of the Russian troops letting Wagnerites go by a checkpoint is something of a tell for me. While they are unhappy with the leadership I don’t think they would condone offing Shoigu on their own volition. Putin had to make it so, and Prig apparently fell for it.

    Decapitate Wagner leadership – check.
    Justify fastening a firmer grip on Russia – check.
    Gain some street cred for saving the nation – check.

    Putin can’t be too unhappy IMHO.

    • Patrick Carty says:

      Are you suggesting Putin is letting Wagner get rid of his Shoigu problem? In Rostov? I think Vlad already has his hands full in Donbas and really can’t spare 25K mercenaries to go anywhere else. Right now we are but 2% into an historic sequence of shit hitting the fan in Russia. Vlad is in deep trouble regardless of what chef dislikes what general.

    • Tech Support says:

      To the contrary. Any measure of success here by Wagner in achieving their goals undermines Putin’s authority.

      It’s worth noting that Putin has long given Wagner a long leash because it has served his purposes both on the battlefield and in keeping the public rhetoric aligned in support of the war.

      As time has progressed however, the acrimony between Wagner and the Ministry of Defense has only grown, and following the conclusion of Wagner’s role in Bakhmut, the MoD has recently made moves to nationalize all irregular forces by requiring those soldiers to sign contracts directly with the MoD. In other words, the MoD moved to completely nationalize Wagner’s forces and effectively oust Prigozhin from holding any substantial military power in Russia or Ukraine.

      That is ultimately what is driving this “coup” by Wagner, which is directed at the MoD rather than Putin himself. Unfortunately for Prigozhin, Putin supported the MoD’s nationalization effort, and while the Russian ground troups may be passively supporting Wagner by avoiding getting into firefights with Wagner forces, one of Prigozhin’s key allies among Russian generals has denounced this move.

      It’s hard to draw any definitive conclusions at this point, but it seems as if Prigozhin has worn out his welcome and that this is a desperation move by him which will fail because he has badly overestimated his credibility with non-Wagner forces and nationalist voices in the media.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        I think Vlad might have considered this decapitation as an option, and the Lukashenko deal only delays things somewhat. What we do know from the reporting is that the Wagnerites did not meet a lot of resistance while engaged in this operation.

        What will be worth watching is what follows, specifically for me what the FSB does. If there is a faction within Putin’s home turf, he’s finished with not a lot of places to go. If Prigozhin finds a window, bad tea, an exploding Stalin statue or some other mishap ruining his day it’s likely that the FSB is still firmly behind their guy.

        Also, let’s remember that there are the Chechens operating independently and VDV, Rosgardia, Spetsnaz and the army operating within the government one way or another. The militias of the occupied regions won’t be very effective. We’ll see if the Chechens take this opportunity to get some more autonomy.

        Lastly, while a Chinese ‘private company’ (it’s all under the CCP, don’t anyone kid themselves because the CCP shuts down operations it doesn’t like) sent a bunch of smokeless gunpowder to a factory making AK-47 rounds, I’m sure Xi is biding his time to take advantage of the chaos to grab some of Siberia where a lot of oil is.

        Don’t think any of the top-level players will be an improvement on Putin, they won’t. Navalny will remain in jail, etc. et al.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL Nadin Brzezinski said Prigozhin had been planning to run for the Russian presidency in 2024.

      Hell of a campaign launch. Trump must be green with envy.

      • EricMariposa says:

        Vaguely reminiscent of Lenin’s hooliganism, Mussolini’s March on Rome, Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch, or Castro’s armed rebellion and trial…

  6. USMA1986 says:

    If you go to the subreddit r/combatfootage
    several people are posting up footage from outside the southern military hq in Rostov, which is surrounded by Wagner troops. And in one video, a journalist, purported to be russian, just confirmed what she is witnessing.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Welcome to the board USMA1986 (sorry I’m a bit late). Ex-USN here but not Canoe U, nuclear engineer in the front line Pacific surface fleet during the Cold War. I look forward to the trash talking and the mockery we need to visit upon the Space Force, because why not?

      Any chance you know Peter Ericson, Brent Goodale or Cole Thompson?

      • USMA1986 says:

        Those names don’t ring a bell but I think I’ve mentioned two classmates here in the past. One turned to the light in the end (Mark Esper) and one doubled down on the dark side (Mike Pompeo). He recently lost about 100 pounds and has pipe dreams of being the next president. Ugh. Just go away.

        Contrast that with our class president, Roger Carstens. Current Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs (Brittney Griner, among others) and one of the few higher level political appointees that President Biden asked to stay on. Good stuff.

        And yes, Space Farce.

        • thebuzzardman says:

          Did you know a Mike Callahan? He was my friend in the 82nd Airborne and got a slot to attend the USMA in 1983.
          I guess he was class of 87, but I had left the service. He got assigned to the 82nd Airborne at Ft Bragg (now Liberty), just missing a bunch of us who ets’d

          He eventually had enough of Infantry and active duty, became a lawyer and was a General in the reserves.

  7. USMA1986 says:

    If you go to the subreddit r/combatfootage
    several people are posting up footage from outside the southern military hq in Rostov, which is surrounded by Wagner troops. And in one video, a journalist, purported to be russian, just confirmed what she is witnessing.

  8. Molly Pitcher says:

    I follow ukraine_defense on IG, and have for a year. They are obviously Ukraine centric, but they have been pretty accurate so far. they have beenposting videos of Russian tanks zooming around for the last several hours.

    Right now I am looking at a clip purporting to be Wagner surrounding the headquarters of the Russian Southern Military district in Rostov.

    Just remember, Prigozin controls gold and diamond mining in the Central Republic of Congo, so he has no need of Russian money.

    Unfortunately both sides are Russian, so you can’t believe anything being said.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Daily Kos has been following as well, interesting commentary. If their theory is right, 25k troops would be enough to hold Rostov on Don which will definitely help Ukraine by cutting down resupply options.

      I’m still troubled by the seeming lack of intensity from the MoD forces which makes me wonder if this is really a housecleaning by Vlad. We’ll know soon since if supplies are stopped in Rostov, the occupied areas will feel it first. Something like the next 48 hours will provide the needed clarity. Look for the rate of activity in the daily updates.

      Also, allegedly Lukashenko has fled Belarus but it is not that definitive a change given the number of Russian troops stationed there. Since we saw ‘ill health’ from Lukashenko in the last Moscow visit, this might just be a replacement of puppets.

  9. Alda Earnest Goodpeople says:

    Rayne asked,”Is it a coup attempt or the start of a civil war?” Maybe Ed Walker will back me up on this, or not, but I think there is a third possible reason for this, and that is to transfer the power of Russia from Putin to someone Putin trusts, Prigozhin.

    There have been rumors Putin is in poor health, and his people are ready to revolt against him, and his unpopular measures against his people, and a clear failure to show military dominance, makes Russia look weak, which has only furthered the resolve of the Russian people to seek new leadership.

    Putin is also wanted by the ICC for child trafficking war crimes, and then the US Department of State wants a piece of him for cyberterrorism against the US, interference with elections, and other matters, and so this may simply be a show for Russians and the world, for the transfer of power from ally to ally, and where these Habsburg states, like but not limited to Russia, have as a playbook page, the transfer of power from the current regime to faux resistance leaders from the same regime, who have come to ‘save’ them from nothing, is my understanding.

    This understanding is based on extensive Habsburg research, and where Dr. Richard Spence, a Russian and freemason scholar at University of Idaho, has done some fantastic research for a period spanning hundreds of years, proving the same is go-to tactic, and where it can also be argued that Trump and the Proud Boys are another recent example of this, coming to save us from an intolerable government their party largely, but not exclusively, engineered.

    Dr. Spence’s work revealed that the Habsburgs, when they were directly ruling a country that became unpopular, would often use their baked-in royal loyal Tudor freemason to overthrow countries across Europe (and in the context the same happened in the United States), to install another Habsburg, a freemason proxy loyal to the Tudor-Habsburg regime (the freemason oath in the Regius Poem specifies an oath to the Tudor-Habsburg regime’s ‘royals’ that commissioned their founding documents after the forged royal claims of Privilegium Maius), and/or a Tudor-Habsburg regime family member that was a freemason.

    Edward VIII and Hitler are good examples of this play, where Edward VIII, a freemason, and family member from the Tudor-Habsburg regime, leaked French intel to the Nazis, and urged Hitler, a WWI military asset of the Habsburgs, to bomb Britain into submission, which Hitler did, and so where here, the transfer of power was from Habsburg military asset (Tudor-Habsburg regime) to Habsburg military asset (Hitler), and by the end of the war, returned to the Tudor-Habsburg regime (since rebranded the UK and EU royals or “f-king grifters” per the CEO of Spotify), who also changed their real German family names to English names thereafter, due to their unpopularity as 52nd to the throne, as German monarchs, who the English at the time, didn’t want lording over them, and where they are seemingly as equally popular today.

    [FYI – I have added paragraph breaks in this comment for readability. 505 words without a break is extremely challenging on mobile devices. Please also give a thought to composition; your last sentence is 137 words long. /~Rayne]

    • Alda Earnest Goodpeople says:

      Will do Rayne. Apologizes for being verbose in the comment section, and generally, but where my sentences are an economy to the likes of the writing style of Charles Darwin, who I was required to study in college. :0)

      A fourth consideration as to why Yevgeny Prigozhin is moving on Moscow may be for Putin to ultimately defeat him in a manufactured show win for Putin, to shore up support for Putin among the Russians, as their victor.

      A fifth conjecture in this scenario is for Putin to be able to blame Prigozhin for the ICC war crimes of Putin, Russia, and Prigozhin, with Prigozhin as the ‘loose cannon’ fall guy, who would not do as he was told, resulting in the ICC crimes.

      • Rayne says:

        I’d buy the spin on the manufactured defeat if Moscow wasn’t putting so much effort into locking down. The only thing Putin hasn’t done so far is declared martial law, but I suspect he’s worried if he does that it’s all over for him because Russians won’t comply and it’d be clear just how weak he is if he can’t enforce it.

        Nobody will buy that “pin the war crimes on the donkey” approach. There’s far too much documentation of the crimes and who committed them.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Calling an Austrian corporal in a nearly eight million-man army a “Habsburg military asset” might be technically correct, but it’s a farcical overreach as political analysis. There may be any number of “f-king grifters,” but I don’t depend on the ceo of f-king Spotify to identify them.

      • Strumbert Leather says:

        Gefreiter Hašek’s creation Švejk was most certainly a Habsburg military ass.

  10. Overshire says:

    @RALee has video up of Prigozhin at the MOD HQ in Rostov, sitting on the porch with a couple of generals, saying he’s not there to disrupt the war, just to either get Shoigu and Gerasimov (meeting with or collecting them is unclear,) or move on to Moscow. Others have posted video of the military raiding Wagner HQ offices in St Petersburg.
    Other reports had him in and out of the St Petersburg building earlier today. Makes me wonder what kind of insurance he thinks he has.

  11. Spank Flaps says:

    If you thought President Putin was bad, wait til you see President Prigozhin. Frying pans and fires spring to mind.
    Dave Troy is speculating that the real reason for Prigozhin’s coup attempt could be because Putin was going to blow the Zap nuclear plant.

    • Rayne says:

      First, I’m not going to worry about Prigozhin as president. There are simply too many moving parts right now.

      Second, the nuclear plant was definitely a concern to Prigozhin. I wish I’d captured where I’d read his comments about it. Looking at this strictly in terms of what the effect would be on Wagner group, if the plant was blown up it could sicken and/or kill many Wagner personnel — another statement that either Shoigu or Putin found Prigozhin and Wagner expendable.

  12. Molly Pitcher says:

    I have been thinking that Prigozhin chose this time to pull this because the Ukrainian counter offensive was going too well.

    I hope the IC have eyes in Belarus, where Russian sent tactical nuclear weapons a week ago.

    Looks like Putin is in danger of a leopard eating his face.

    • Rayne says:

      With the rumors that Lukashenko has now left (fled?) Belarus, have to wonder what it was about those tactical nukes which might have encouraged Lukashenko to leave.

  13. ZircZirc says:

    It’s been daylight in that part of the world for quite a few hours. A column driving to Moscow would be easy pickings for airpower, but I haven’t seen any reports of air attacks on it. I find that interesting.

  14. wasD4v1d says:

    As stated (ie, ‘for now’) it is a mutiny, colonel v general. Insofar as each element commands an army, if shooting starts, it can be called a civil war. And once it reaches that point, a coup becomes far more likely.

    Overall, though, Putin has both a reason and an existential need to recall his troops from Ukraine. He now has actual enemies to deal with.

  15. Molly Pitcher says:

    ukraine_defense is posting video of a fuel depot in Voronez, Russia in flames, saying it was bombed by a Russian helicopter. The BBC News is reporting that Reuters says Russian Army helicopters are firing on Wagner convoys on the M4 highway between Rostov-on-don and Moscow.

  16. harpie says:
    [DefenceHQ is the official corporate news channel of the UK Ministry of Defence.]
    3:23 AM [ET] · Jun 24, 2023

    Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 24 June 2023. [screenshot][THREAD]

    [1/5] In the early hours of 24 June 2023, the feud between Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group and the Russian MoD escalated into outright military confrontation.
    [5/5] Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times. [end]

  17. bloopie2 says:

    The Guardian: “Google Maps is showing road closures on the M4 south of Moscow, the route the Wagner rebels are taking.” That’s just nuts. Remarkable, but nuts.

  18. Peterr says:

    Looks like my speculation about two possible end games in Ukraine last April is playing out:

    End Game 1 begins with a simple premise: from Putin’s point of view, Putin cannot fail – he can only be failed.

    Given the demise of the initial battle plan of some of Putin’s generals and the absence of the cake walk with Ukrainians greeting the Russian Army as liberators predicted by at least some of Putin’s intelligence officers, there is plenty of failure to go around. . . .

    From Putin’s POV, all of this is unacceptable, and all of it is proof that he has been failed. This, obviously, cannot be allowed to stand. With End Game 1, the question for Putin is who he should hold responsible for these failures.

    Russian history demonstrates how a leader obsessed with his personal power and who sees himself as the embodiment of the nation reacts to a situation like this: he makes An Example of someone. Or several someones. Or hundreds of someones. . . .

    End Game 1 is for Putin to declare failure in Ukraine, blame it on military and intelligence officers he wants to get rid of, dispose of them, and move on from there.

    Which brings us to End Game 2.

    Russian military and intelligence officers are no doubt much more acutely aware of and worried about End Game 1 than I am. End Game 2 is that the generals take matters into their own hands, hoping for a more successful result than Operation Valkyrie had on July 20, 1944.

    Of course, Putin is aware of the possibility of End Game 2, which may make him more anxious to work toward End Game 1. But the generals know that Putin is aware of this, which may make them more anxious to work toward End Game 2. . . .

    Putin seems to be leaning toward (or has fully chosen) End Game 1 in striking at Prigozhin and the Wagner Group, and Prigozhin has gone all in on End Game 2.

    • Rayne says:

      I’ve thought of that post several times over the last 12 hours. On the face of it the situation looks like a hybrid of both End Games you proposed. End Game 2 seemed less likely as time went on because Russia had lost so many generals. Per Newsweek back in early February this year:

      Ukrainian sources claimed in July that 14 Russian generals had been killed although some claims have been rebutted. While there have not been reports of Putin losing generals for several months, the scale of losses of such high-ranking officers is rare.

      However, Japan estimates that 20 of Putin’s generals have been killed in the war, based on intelligence gathered by Tokyo in cooperation with the United States and Europe.

      Is Prigozhin a general in theory under End Game 2? Or is he not a Russian general and because he’s a more competent strategist he’s choosing a hybrid End Game?

      You want extra butter on your popcorn?

      • Peterr says:

        Call him a self-appointed general — or perhaps Marshall might be the more appropriate title.

        • Rayne says:

          [BEGIN PURE SPECULATION] I’m beginning to think this could be End Game 3 — only looks like an internal player executing End Game 2. Prigozhin is a general or marshall only if he’s deployed for the same aims as the chief executive. But what if Prigozhin was never on Team Putin wrt the so-called special operations mission in Ukraine? What if he always viewed himself as external?

          If a country needs to summon mercenaries to fight a war — not just a battle or two or an assassination detail, but backfill for the depletion and shortcomings of a nation’s armed forces — the country has lost unless it can wait out a grindingly slow war of attrition. But with as many as 225,000 casualties as of this week, it’s a meat grinder of attrition. Prigozhin could surely see this when he began recruiting from prisons.

          So the chef deploys Wagnerites into Ukraine’s fields; it’s every bit as bad as he thought only now it’s cutting into his own personnel. He complains loudly to Putin about the corrupt and ineffective military brass blaming them for the failures including shortages of materiel. Putin won’t squash these complaints because it’s the first time he hears what doesn’t sound like bullshit whitewash, and he both respects and fears Prigozhin’s abilities (which is why Wagner’s deployed in Ukraine). More materiel arrives but it’s hoarded for the right moment.

          And then Russia’s brass (and possibly Putin) do some really stupid shit which not only trashes the asset they’re trying to conquer (a la Bahkmut and the Dnieper dam) but threatens far more (Zaporizhia’s nuke plant and the tactical nuke move). Now Prigozhin can smell the flop sweat. It’s done, stick a fork in it, the war is truly lost; there will be factions who welcome the change because they’re sick of the mounting death toll in Ukraine and the loss of status abroad.

          Putin or Shoigu wants every individual merc to sign a contract with Russian defense which is a threat to Prigozhin’s business and that’s the last straw. He may have set up a false flag or the missile attack was the trigger to unleash on Shoigu first in Rostov-on-Don.

          Because Putin rashly called Prigozhin a traitor after the march on Rostov, Prigozhin was prepared to go big.

          The pie is bigger than Russia; Prigozhin knows how badly strained Russian military is elsewhere like Syria. If this is End Game 3, it’s a coup masked as a civil war which began much, much earlier. Some Wagner personnel knew it was coming; they were calling home to say goodbye a day or two before the march on Rostov began. [END SPECULATION]

          • RipNoLonger says:

            Hard to jive your very interesting speculation with the news that the Wagner army has decided to pull back (whatever that means.) I’m thinking there are some sub-currents that are flowing, and as always, a lot of disinformation.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t Instagram or Facebook, haven’t for +10 years, refuse to because of their tracking beacons.

  19. timbozone says:

    Here are two links that will help with up to hour-minute reports:–Sg

    Note that the Southern Border region Russian command commander has indicated he’s moving forces from the Georgian border towards Rostov to support the Russian government. But who knows…

    • Dutch Louis says:

      You can also use the timelines on the websites of: The Kyiv Independent, The Moscow Times, Novaya Gazeta and Meduza (all of them report in English).

    • Rayne says:

      There’s some possible insight, but it’s important to remember as a mercenary, Wagner has had other resources Shoigu couldn’t muster through Russia’s corrupt courtier-oriented defense infrastructure. Prigozhin isn’t hampered by bureaucracy, nor by the corruption rife in Russia’s defense industry.

    • ISMA1986 says:

      The enemy of my enemy is my friend. OK, sure.

      The nazi enemy of my enemy is my friend. Not as much.

    • Rayne says:

      A-yup, absolutely spot on. What we don’t know is whether Prigozhin really wants to lead Russia in his fascist way, or if he just wants a bigger share of the narco/petro mafia state market.

      • e.a. foster says:

        Prigozhin most likely isn’t interested in running the country. Thats too much work.
        He most likely wants to make more money. It would appear that has been a motivating factor for him. He went to prison because he was involved in crime to make money. Got out and found another method of making money and then diversified his business to make even more money. It is unlikely Prigozhin is actually on “friendly” terms with Putin. He’s just smoozing to get the contracts. Prigozhin was and is a criminal. He is just doing crimes at a bigger level for more money.

        My take on this drive to Moscow wasn’t to do anything more than to send a message to Putin. He is not invinsible. His military isn’t in great shape. Could be Prigozhin is just some 1%er biker who is trying to throw his weight around to send a message and Putin blinked.
        It has been my observation that criminals sometimes take ridiculous actions to obtain a larger market share of the business. Here in British Columbia we have been watching it for over 30 years. That is all Prigozhin is doing, playing chicken for a larger market share. He is just another thug. Putin is more of a “sissy” and he is short so he has been over compensating for most of his life. When he plays hockey, his team always wins. Yes, the Pres. of Ukraine isn’t any taller, but he has a sense of humour–he was a comedian. He is also a fairly good dancer.

    • P J Evans says:

      It’s noticeable that no civilians are involved. They’re all staying out of the way.

      • Ed Walker says:

        I was thinking the same thing. The Russian people don’t have much of a say in what happens. There isn’t even a viable alternative leadership as far as I know, but I don’t know anything about that country and it’s politics.

        • P J Evans says:

          I don’t know much, but it tends to the idea that the Russian people have never had a say in government. It’s always been top-down, starting with the Rurikids.

          (Interesting fictional reading with much Russian history: _The Moon Goddess and the Son_, by Kingsbury. Long out of print.)

  20. klynn says:

    A week and a half since publishing. Lets see how this ages.

    “The maverick businessman has made the “special operation” against Ukraine—which in his rhetoric is an all-out war—the mainstay of his identity and a way of aligning himself with ordinary Russians rather than with the establishment, including the Defense Ministry. Indeed, following the Defense Ministry’s recent announcement that all “volunteer detachments” would now have to sign contracts with the ministry, Prigozhin was quick to insist his fighters would be doing no such thing, as that would only damage the private military company’s efficiency.“

  21. USMA1986 says:

    Just watched a video recorded by a farmer in Russia as he runs across his field, frightened by the very loud and very close sounds of a gunfight battle.

    A commenter pointed out that in Ukraine, at least farmers can defend themselves because they have loads of tanks. 😂😂😂

  22. harpie says:
    1:31 PM [ET]· Jun 24, 2023

    Hmm. Prigozhin says he’s turning around and heading back to his field camps, apparently unwilling to push ahead and risk serious bloodshed. No Moscow showdown? [THREAD]

    War correspondent Sasha Kots credits Belarusian President Lukashenko with negotiating this turn of events. Prigozhin does refer to a “plan,” but didn’t mention Batka. [link]

    Russian state media also credits Lukashenko with talking down Prigozhin and offering him a safe exit from his march toward Moscow. Unclear what happens next, but the watchword is “de-escalation.”

  23. swmarks53 says:

    Apparently, Lukashenko has negotiated a deal between Prigozhin and Putin according to Max Seddon of Financial Times. 1672657024419495937
    I put a break in the link just to be sure there is no tracking. Hard to give full credence to anything at this point coming out of this coup.

  24. USMA1986 says:

    First 3 items on Prigozhin’s to do list upon returning to camp.
    1) hire someone to taste his food.
    2) hire someone to taste his food.
    3) make sure to hire someone to taste his food.

    • Rayne says:

      Oh no, more like “identify the laundry person he trusts the most to ensure his undershorts aren’t smeared with novichok.”

    • pdaly says:

      If it was missile strikes exploding on his mercenaries that reportedly triggered him to March on Moscow, then I would think he would be concerned about protecting himself from more of the same. I wonder if that is not an issue anymore? How could he be sure?

      • ButteredToast says:

        For what it’s worth, the independent Russian news source Meduza concluded that the video released by Prigozhin to support his claim of a missile strike on Wagner was “almost certainly staged” (post from 20 hours ago, on their live blog about the coup attempt [link with extra spaces added]: https: // meduza. io/en/live/2023/06/23/ yevgeny-prigozhin-s-coup). I suspect the plan of the Russian Minister of Defense to absorb Wagner into the main armed forces was the real trigger for Prigozhin. But even if he’s not concerned about a missile strike per se, it would be foolish of him to take any promises from Putin at face value.

        • e.a. foster says:

          He isn’t sure, but he is simply betting he will be fine and not get killed. In Prigozhin’s line of work, you get used to the risk or you just consider it the price of doing business. Some people who engage in risky and dangerous sports or occupations, just are different from most people.
          Second floor is always safer. Its harder for some one to come in through the windows and jumping out is easier

  25. ButteredToast says:

    Not sure if this link needs to be modified to post, so I’ll put in spaces (https ://twitter. com/maxseddon/status/ 1672692778604670986). From Max Seddon:

    Kremlin spox Dmitry Peskov:
    – charges dropped against Prigozhin, who will leave Russia for Belarus
    – Wagner fighters who didn’t take part in the uprising will sign contracts with the MOD
    – Wagner fighters who did take part not charged
    – No word on potential MOD leadership change

  26. Schychka says:

    There are reports of raids on the homes of Prigozhin and his men. Money, gold and passports were seized. Do you suspect that Prigozhin left his flank unguarded and the GRU seized the families as well for bargaining chips?
    “Stop the rebellion now or all your families are dead!” might be what made Prigozhin turn around.

    • Rayne says:

      Media which videoed this has been doing clean up now, yanking the video. Without more supporting evidence I don’t know what to make of it but threatening Prigozhin at such a personal level seems like asking for retribution when one least expects it.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, it’s the unidentified white powder which wasn’t acknowledged by Prigozhin which sounds like a set up:

      Media: Russian law enforcement finds fake passports, cash suitcases at Prigozhin’s office
      by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 25, 2023 12:37 AM

      Russian law enforcement allegedly found five kilos of gold bars and some unidentified white powder after searching in Yevgeny Prigozhin’s office, Russian independent news outlet Meduza reported citing Fontanka investigative website.

      The outlet also published photos of a passport with Prigozhin’s photo under the name “Vladimir Bobrov” and another under Prigozhin’s name but with another bald man’s picture. At least four different passports were allegedly found.

      Russian law enforcement claims to have found six guns and five kilos of unidentified white powder.

      Prigozhin confirmed media reports in an audio message on one of his Telegram channels, saying that money he kept in a van and two buses were allocated for salaries, paid in cash.

      Putin nails potential threats on drug possession frequently, if you haven’t noticed. My guess is the video was a way of someone in Putin’s circle within his guard or intelligence saying we have a way of backstopping this negotiated agreement. Not that Prigozhin will worry.

      ADDER — 1:17 a.m. 25-JUN-2023 —

      What if the white stuff along with the gold was payment to Prigozhin and not a setup? What if the video was how confirmation of payment was made?

      We also know GRU has made IDs Wagner personnel have used.

  27. Peterr says:

    While all the details are fuzzy and/or unknown, two things are being consistently reported: 1) Prigozhin will move into Belarus, and 2) all potential charges against individual Wagner Group soldiers that Putin had promised will now be dropped because of the higher goal of the Putin/Prigozhin agreement to avoid Russian bloodshed and out of respect for the soldiers’ prior service to Russia.

    Among the problems I see with this is, what happens to the Wagner Group soldiers that marched with Prigozhin toward Moscow? Will they feel abandoned by Prigozhin, or even more angry at Putin for depriving them of their leader? Will they simply down tools and head home, leaving the Russian military to fight on its own in Ukraine?

    Various folks have speculated that what tipped Prigozhin into starting his move toward Moscow was a proposal to require that all soldiers in “volunteer organizations” sign a contract with the Russian Ministry of Defense — thus putting them under direct state power. The Wagner Group soldiers have no love for the Russian military, especially its leadership, and I can’t see them being any happier at this move to control them than Prigozhin was.

    I know nothing about the leadership structure of the Wagner Group, but if I were Putin, I’d be very worried about what these soldiers and their leaders will do when Prigozhin heads to Belarus.

    • e.a. foster says:

      Wether its a coup or civil war or a scheme of some sort, doesn’t matter to me as long as no further deaths occur except for Putin and his Chef. It would be nice to see them exit stage left and the world would be a better place. O.K. that was the inner voice. We’ll rephrase, a nice ending would be the Chef and Putin go on trial for war crimes, etc. in the Hague and wind up in jail for 25 years. A person can dream

      When I started reading about the “event” at 3 a.m. our time, gave me a good laugh. Had expected something like this once Wagner started recruiting in the prisons. What it did demonstrate was some Russians thought things could get worse and exited asap. Where is Putin. Most likely started running until there was a deal of some sort. He isn’t a tough guy at all. He’s just an aging baby boomer who has some nukes and when push comes to shove, he runs. Its not like he got out there. Do remember Boris Yelsen did. Think he was on top of some tank back in the day.

      When the Russian government declared Wagner employees had to sign on with the Russian military that would have been concern not for just the chef but the rank and file. It might have been a way to rid Putin of the Wagner soliders. Once in the Russian army, they could have been killed one by one. As to the Wagner soliders it is doubtful they would have signed on with the Russian military. the wages are low, bad accomodations, bad food, harassment, as far back as the 80s there were articles about how terrible if was for conscripts. Whoever was in comand of units where Wagner soliders might have been placed would have been very nervous.

  28. RipNoLonger says:

    So Prigozhin is relocating to Belarus – has (maybe) nukes and borders on Poland, Latvia, Lithuania. Why do I feel that this is not a positive development?

    Will he be bringing his army with him? The army moved up to at least Lipetsk – a short distance to Belarus and directly north of Kharkiv and Kyiv. Lots of room for mischief.

    • Tetman Callis says:

      Wagner strikes south from Belarus at Kyiv and Kharkiv, counting on Ukraine being too committed and distracted in the southeast to effectively respond? Or Wagner only redeploys to Belarus, posing a threat that Ukraine has to respond to by pulling forces away from the southeast to redeploy in the north, thereby weakening the Ukraine offensive to the point that it cannot succeed?

    • earthworm says:

      tactical nukes moved to Belarus several weeks ago. wagner forces make a sharp left turn toward Belarus after “truce” with kremlin.
      watch out Ukraine, baltics, northern europe!

      • Rayne says:

        Has it occurred to you at all a tactical nuke could be aimed at Valdai? It’s less than 500 miles by air from Minsk to a certain ritzy dacha.

  29. vigetnovus says:

    This whole situation is so bizarre. The only positive development is that it has made Putin look extremely weak. I expect other oligarchs may try to pick up where Prighozin left off.

  30. MT Reedør says:

    I dunno about any of this. Speculation: I wouldn’t surprised if this is all staged to disguise their troop movements or try to expose Ukraine sources and methods.

  31. RipNoLonger says:

    Not to belabor a point, but this all seems like a classic scheme. Not hard to understand but involving a few pieces.
    – Prigozhin (please, bmaz, can we use an acronym?) is a confidant of Putin.
    – PR is tasked by the Kremlin to do some dirty operations (not the only country…)
    – PR is sent to UKR to do some of these messy things that the normal military shouldn’t do (deniability)
    – PR sort of succeeds (lots of bodies) but couldn’t overrun the UKR positions.
    – PR retreats a bit and he and Putin confer about the next action.
    – A staged attack against the Wagner troops with possibly real bodies is videod.
    – PR decides that he has been dissed by the GRU/military appartchiks and decides to wage war.
    – Putin and PR agree that a nice trip up M4 towards Moscow would be fine
    – No resistance at any checkpoints along the way.
    – Finally, the Wagner forces get almost opposite the best place to cross to Belarus.
    – A pact between Putin and PR is initialed.
    – The Wagner troops, on Russian soil, can start moving just north of the UKR cities.

    In my mind, there’s never been a separation of Putin and his cohort’s desires. Just scheming.

    • Schychka says:

      Could be. That move could lead to a panzer attack from behind.
      OTOH why take your best forces away from defending a full scale attack, which might prove decisive? Also, the cease and desist agreement fragments Wagner forces leaving only executive soldiers in Belarus and their brute forces back at the ranch facing Ukraine. Not much of a force in Belarus for a panzer.
      I’m sticking with, “We have your families and you know what we can do.”

    • Molly Pitcher says:


      Your suggestion, as well as that of M T Reedor, makes a lot of sense to me. I said at 5:24am above, that I thought Prigozhin’s timing was inspired by how well Ukraine was doing in it ‘s counter surge; and the Ukrainians don’t yet have all of the aircraft they are getting from the West.

      The ability to do an end around from the Belarus territory would certainly be an advantage, and maybe explain this crazy day.

    • Rayne says:

      Except for the part where Putin looks very weak now to Russians and other countries as well, emphasized by Russians in Rostov-on-Don happily greeting Prigozhin and Kadyrov taking his sweet fucking time responding to the situation in order to walk the line between dissing Putin and pissing off Prigozhin.

      Sure, sure. Let’s also ignore US and EU intelligence about this as well.

      • ButteredToast says:

        Agreed. Why would Putin orchestrate a scheme in which he caves to blatant threats from a common criminal-turned-mercenary (whose force probably numbered only some 25,000 men)? Putin even made a defiant speech, vowing retribution, and essentially made Prigozhin persona non grata. To then reverse course hours later, allow Prigozhin and his men (apparently?) to escape punishment—even after having killed some Russian pilots—might suggest to other ambitious warlords that Putin will be open to “persuasion” again in the future.

        Perhaps the biggest tell this wasn’t a conspiracy between the two is that Prigozhin recorded a video some days prior to the mutiny in which he denounced official justifications for the war. Putin certainly wouldn’t have green-lit that.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        None of this makes much sense.

        The question being asked on BBC News now is, where is Prigozhin ?

  32. harpie says:

    Putin’s Weakness Unmasked How Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion exposed the Russian President. David Remnick June 24, 2023

    […] After combing through the more reliable outlets of the independent Russian press and social media, I had a lengthy conversation with Mikhail Zygar, one of the most knowledgeable reporters and commentators on Kremlin power. […]

    On the Internet Archive:

  33. harpie says:
    10:46 PM · Jun 24, 2023

    Fascinating essay by analyst @baunov, who argues that military failures in Ukraine have turbo-charged anti-elite sentiment inside Russia, fueling demands for the USSR 3.0, forcing Putin into a vulnerable position of defending the elites & market economy. […][THREAD]

    On the Internet Archive:

    • Rayne says:

      Thanks, harpie! I can’t write as fast as you can find stuff for me to read! LOL

      EDIT: This entry in Rothrock’s thread = Peterr’s [End Game 1 + End Game 2] —

      Kevin Rothrock @KevinRothrock

      Baunov says Prigozhin’s long interview on the eve of the insurrection where he trashed the invasion’s planning and rationale was actually an offer to Putin to “march” with him and pin it all on Shoigu and other elites. Putin didn’t take the deal.

      3:12 AM · Jun 25, 2023

      Prigozhin gave Putin a chance to say he’d been failed (End Game 1) but ended up marching toward Moscow. He’s figuratively displaced Putin from power leaving a coup-in-place scenario (End Game 2).

  34. JanTheMan says:

    Long time reader, first time poster. I am intrigued by the various “end games” being discussed.

    One thing I have not seen any discussion about is: given the fact that Lukashenko brokered the deal that brings Prigozhin to Belarus, is Lukashenko creating the conditions for Wagner to be the new “keepers of the tactical nukes“ in that Russia moved Belarus, giving him quite a bit of leverage over Putin, and perhaps even controlling the “endgame“.

    Or is this hopelessly naive?

  35. Rugger_9 says:

    In addition to what FSB will do to Wagner, there is also going to be an accounting for the units that let them roll unimpeded if Putin wasn’t behind this in some way. See if they get sent to the active fronts or split apart with their officers hauled up on charges. I think the milbloggers will keep score here.

  36. e.a. foster says:

    The Russian troops most likely didn’t do much of anything because no one ordered them to do something. The Russian military is top down and there isn’t much room for initiative.

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