An internal document of the British government and its intelligence services warn about “disintegration and balkanization” of Russia after the dark mutiny of Wagner’s mercenaries. He says that “Britain must prepare for the sudden Russian collse” after the failed coup, in a process that will be as quick as the mutiny.
When the whereabouts of rebel leader and commander of Wagner’s mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and whether he is in Belarus or not, the British and Americans shared intelligence information.
Since last Wednesday, they knew of the possibility of an armed uprising in Russia.
The British always thought that the war in the Ukraine would lead to political unrest in Russia. But the speed and dizzyingness of the weekend’s events have forced them, along with the Europeans, to prepare for different outcomes.
With Wagner’s forces having no resistance, the British believe that “something new is being born” among the Russian troops, Probably against their higher ups. There are no non-commissioned officers in the Russian army. In each of his ctures of the two cities in his advance towards Moscow, no one opposed Wagner. Everything seems to indicate that the Russian soldiers are with the mercenaries.
In Rostov on Don, the place where the riot started, is the central military base for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the headquarters of his forces on the front lines of the war. In Voronezh no one resisted Wagner and people plauded them as they passed.
Is it that he can cause a collse in the Kremlin, depose President Vladimir Putin? The senior British source suggested: ”We have to wait, watch and see what comes next. This could be the chter of something new.”
Great Britain has decidednot interfere in Russian internal affairs.
“Smuta”, the synonym of anarchy
John Foreman, a former British defense attache in Moscow, said the possibility of Prigozhin ousting Vladimir Putin ranked “as the worst case scenario.” You have to be careful what you wish for. Prigozhin is not a peace-loving liberal democrat. He is a fascist, ”he warned.
Foreman, who left Moscow last year, suggested that the speed of events took all Western and European diplomats by surprise.
“Our assessment is that this was going to be gradual. It was not going to be a sudden march on Moscow,” said the former British defense attache to Russia.
He analyzed Vladimir Putin’s speech and said it was an attempt by the struggling Russian leader to remind his people “The need for a strong leader.”
Putin described the uprising as smutaa word that in Russian means contention, but that is used to encompass theto age of anarchy that followed the death of Ivan, “The Terrible” in 1584.
“Every Russian knows immediately what he’s talking about when Putin uses that word,” Foreman explained.
Putin, powerful adversary
Lord Richards de Herstmonceux, former British chief of the Defense Staff, said that “Putin remained a powerful adversary” despite the insurrection. He warned that the West he risked “sadly underestimating Russia”.
For him, the struggling Ukrainian counter-offensive showed the continued strength of the Russian army’s defenses.
“Despite the weakened state, possibly Putin’s, we have a long way to go here. And that is actually the worst of all worlds for the West,” he told Times Radio on Monday.
“What we should have achieved or sought to achieve is a much quicker and more decisive victory. We couldn’t do this. So, in military terms, we could say that we are haggling instead of hitting,” he assured.
Sir Roderic Lyne, the former British ambassador to Russia, said Putin’s grip on power was weakening. “I think the chances of Putin staying in power indefinitely, which is what he wants to do, have been reduced, but at this time he is still in charge”, he explained.
Probable “purge” underway
Russia got rid of the mutiny but remains on the verge of disintegration, even though Progozhin and his mercenaries go to Belarus. An autocrat like Vladimir Putin can esce murder charges and economic crises but cannot run away from responsibilities when he is losing the war. That is why this riot is the beginning of the end for the Russian president.
A day after Wagner’s fighters halted their march on Moscow, there is still no clear sign from Russian defense chiefs, whose feud with the mercenary group leader sparked the crisis. Only Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu peared on public TV.
Prigozhin had demanded that Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the chief of staff, be handed over to him in exchange for calling off their armed rebellion. None of the officials made public statements during the crisis and their whereabouts are unclear. Shoigu peared in a video on Monday allegedly visiting troops in Ukraine, but it is not known when it was recorded.
The Kremlin has said that the agreement to stop the Wagner uprising did not affect the fate of the defense minister.
There is speculation that Shoigu could be replaced as defense minister by Alexei Dyumin, the governor of the Tula region and a former Kremlin bodyguard. A military “purge” could be underway by order of Vladimir Putin to prevent another rebellion in the midst of a war with Ukraine that has left the Russians more than 200,000 dead and missing.
Militias in the face of chaos
The mutiny exposes what can hpen in Russia in the coming months with the different independent movements, such as in Chechnya, Komi and Arcangel, since they all want to separate from Moscow. The independence fragmentation is a possibility.
Europe did not understand that Russia could quickly go to civil war. But in Russia every corporation, every mayor, and every powerful oligarch is building their own private militias, in anticipation of the chaos that may come.
The only one who understood the subtleties of what is coming and was ahead of everything is Prigozhin. A Leningrad gangster who, thanks to Putin, was able to lead a brutal and effective gang of mercenaries like Wagner.
wagner lies in the most remote places on the planet. They protect gold mines in Sudan, energy deposits in Libya, uranium in Congo, gas and oil in Mozambique. Nobody knows if they will continue to do so, after this riot and this agreement from Belarus. The one from the group in Saint Petersburg this Monday operated “normally” and continued to “recruit”.
But there is a question mark: the extraordinary fact that in 24 hours the mercenaries were able to take two cities when they could not cture Bakhmut in 6 months. Is it that someone helped them?
In the 1990s the West tried to keep the Soviet Union together. It was a big flop. Today Europe did not assess the extent of the lack of love between Wagner’s mercenaries, the civilian population and Vladimir Putin, and what would be its consequences.
Millions of Russians saw President Putin as their indomitable savior and today they see him as a damaged and failed man. It has survived Wagner’s rebellion but the evaluation in Europe is that his days are numbered.
His aura of invincibility is shattered by his failed and failed invasion of Ukraine. But this riot has given him the coup de grace. The end is only a matter of time.
Locked up in a Crimean villa, Mikhail Gorbachev suffered a coup in August 1991 at the hands of Kremlin hawks. He managed to maintain power, but completely weakened.
Five months later he lost his position as Soviet leader. This weekend, Putin entered the same situation as Gorbachev, with the difference that he has no Western support and the last thing he cares about is democratizing Russia.
The fear of neighboring countries
The Baltic states and Poland fear having Russia as an “unpredictable and very dangerous neighbor” as Putin’s regime cracks.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Lithuanian foreign minister, said NATO’s eastern flank would have to be strengthened, after the Prigozhin mutiny showed how fast events could be in terms of military development and possible war.
“It is very, very dangerous to stay in a gray area. The main thing we are looking at is the unpredictability of Russia. Now we are seeing how quickly things can hpen,” he said. He called for the expedited deployment of the NATO brigades.
“We are strongly asking our allies to analyze our situation. In light of everything that has hpened in Russia, we need to reinforce the eastern flank, especially with the countries that have borders with Russia and Belarus,” he stated.
Germany is ready to deploy a brigade to Lithuania permanently, as part of NATO plans to bolster the defence, said Boris Pistorius, the German defense minister. “The necessary infrastructure is in place: barracks, training grounds and deposits,” he added.