The wackiest thing in history has just unfolded.
12:50 AM EST
So, a few hours ago, I was pretty sure the Russian state was going to utterly collapse, and that the Ukraine would seize Russian territory.
It now appears, by some fantastic twist, that this is actually not going to happen.
I have zero idea how it is possible that Prigozhin had everything lined up to take control of Southern Command, and then was like “ah – nah, I guess I’ll just surrender.”
He could have just been drunk. But he had to have lined this all up with the FSB and the military, and that would have been a very big thing, to do that all in secret, and get that many powerful players on his side.
As of right now, he has stopped the push towards Moscow, and is possibly en route to Belarus.
Just out of nowhere, it was announced that Prigozhin agreed to talks with Lukashenko, President of Belarus, and then hours later it was announced that he was calling the whole thing off.
This is part of the statement from Belarus:
“Evgeny Prigozhin accepted the proposal of President Alexander Lukashenko to stop the movement of the armed men of Wagner in Russia and to take further steps to de-escalate tension.” It added that Prigozhin had been offered “an advantageous and acceptable option for resolving the situation, with security guarantees for the Wagner PMC fighters.”
This is still in flux, or whatever, and something could still go wrong, but that is where we are apparently at as of Sunday morning in Russia. Actually, that statement is 12 hours old, at time of writing, but nothing seems to have changed.
Wagner peacefully left the base in Rostov, surrendering control, with the troops going back to the territories of the former Ukraine and Prigozhin going wherever he is going. He should be executed, but I guess he can’t be if he made a deal. I think he will most likely end up dead in the next few months either way.
It really, really, really looked like this was going to turn into a full-on civil war, and the Ukraine war would collapse, and Russia would collapse as a country, breaking into different parts like the US wants it to.
I have no idea how Prigozhin was so competent to organize taking over Southern Command and then just giving up. Something must have went wrong.
The chaos now is over, the borders and airports are back online, the military seems to be totally off the streets in Moscow.
There are going to have to be purges of the FSB and whoever else sided with Prigozhin.
The people who said the whole thing was a staged event are going to claim victory. I don’t really understand what the purpose of faking this would be, but the way it collapsed, and the way none of it made any sense, will allow those theorists to say “see, this was the plan all along!”
How this will affect Russia and the war effort in the longer run, I do not know. I think there should be an increased desire to escalate, and Putin is definitely not going to want to look weak after all of this, so he will probably back a move toward “total war” or as I like to call it “Blitzkrieg.”
Yesterday, I said that Putin’s legitimacy would be gone if it wasn’t solved in 12 hours, and 8 hours after I said that, it was solved. So I do not think he’s lost legitimacy. It looks bad, but not so bad he’d need to resign.
I do think the fact that so many people would back Prigozhin in his insane plan shows that there is a very real desire for Putin to get more aggressive in the Ukraine, and that has to be taken into account.
This went from being the worst thing ever to the most confusing thing I’ve seen in my life.
Really, this was truly a weird 36 hours.