For those following the NATO proxy war in Ukraine with interest and those with little to no interest, events in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday most likely grabbed attention with equal grasp. It is not every morning one awakens to headlines to the effect that one of the world’s most capable nuclear powers, in the middle of a conflict, is undergoing a civil war involving a band of 25,000 armed and battle hardened insurrectionists. Saturday the 24th of June 2023 was that day.
Early Saturday morning it became apparent that Russia’s Wagner Private Military Company founder and leader, ex-criminal, Restaurantaire and Billionaire, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had announced his troops and equipment had taken over Rostov-on-Don, a city in Southern Russia closest to the conflict zone, and would be marching to Moscow if demands were not met.
His demands centred primarily on the firing of Russia’s Minister for Defence, Sergei Shoigu, and matters relating to the future of Wagner within the ‘Special Military Operation’. He called his action a ‘March for Justice’. He also continued with a barrage of public announcements denouncing the progress of Russia’s Military Operations, falsely claiming that Ukraine had broken through Russian lines, and that Russian MoD forces had attacked Wagner troops, the likes of such claims he has been making public for some time now.
The headlines from ‘Western’ Corporate media, politicians, and pro-Ukraine social media accounts were ecstatic and frenzied, proclaiming the start of a Russian civil war that has been a talking point of both US and Ukrainian state agencies over the last number of months. Corporate media transformed their view of Wagner PMC in minutes from cruel, barbaric war criminals to freedom fighters and rebels, I kid you not.
Across Twitter and Telegram there was a tornado of posts with claims and counter claims, 5, 10, 20 Russian aircraft were shot down by Wagner, Wagner Columns attacked by Russian forces, it was hard to keep up. A few such posts were accompanied by images and/or footage, but nothing verifiable other than Wagner Soldiers at a state authority building in Rostov-on Don.
Although Prigozhin himself was making claims that most of his forces were marching on Moscow, strangely no footage could be found of a many miles long column of men and machinery on the road to Moscow. Equally, for all the downed aircraft being reported, other than a video of a missile by-passing a Russian Military helicopter, there was nothing to confirm any of the reports nor the words of Prigozhin himself.
It is a fact that videos emerged online purporting to show Russian military and civic services making preparations to hinder a push into Moscow by Wagner forces, and there was an intensified military presence in Moscow, but nothing to justify the hysteria and expectations of ‘Western’ Corporate media, indeed a discerning mind might have had their right-eyebrow raised in ever-observant suspicion. Suspicion of ‘Western’ corporate media’s outlandish predictions around the causes and outcome of yesterday’s events, but also suspicion around the events themselves.
To cut to the chase, the outcomes appear to be all in Vladimir Putin and his government’s favour. Far from the people of Moscow and other Russian cities like St Petersburg and Rostov-on-Don rising up against what we in the ‘West’ are told is an unpopular dictator, the people of Russia, urban and rural, stood firmly behind their President, government and military. Russia’s military stood squarely behind the government and state as did Russia’s allies and former Soviet States. Even Putin’s political opposition supported Putin and hailed him as the Commander and Chief, including those fiercest in opposition to Putin’s Party, the Communist Party. What was predicted to be the beginning of Russia’s civil war transpired to have the effect of a morale and team building exercise on a continental scale. This was not the only advantageous outcome for Putin’s government that emerged from yesterday’s events.
Wagner’s Prigozhin has been a thorn in the side of Russia’s MoD for a while. Although they are considered the force that took Bakhmut, now known as Artymovsk, there are reports that Russia’s MoD were not happy with Wagner’s performance and their growing power and reputation. During the last days of the battle for Bakhmut for example, Wagner made public statements saying that the MoD was not providing Wagner with enough missiles, that they were not involved in planning and that they would be pulling out of Bakhmut.
As it transpired, within days Wagner took Bakhmut and for many Prigozhin’s public statements were bluff, or what is commonly termed these days, a ‘Psyc-op’. It’s hard to know, but what was becoming obvious even then was that Prigozhin was founding a cult of personality and that combined with being a loose cannon made him a problem for Russian MoD.
The result of Prigozhin’s growing cult and insubordination was that Russian MoD decided to merge Wagner into the regular Russian Army, Prigozhin was against this. By the evening of Saturday the 24th of June 2023 that problem had been resolved. Prigozhin’s ‘Coup’ actions resulted in Wagner being partially merged with the Russian army and the rest disbanded. Prigozhin himself, we are told, is to be exiled to Belarus. Another goal for Putin’s government.
The ‘Coup’ also offered Russian Authorities the chance to identify those disloyal within government and the military and who were engulfed in an adrenalin fuelled state of rebellion inspired by event in Rostov-on-Don. There seems to have been few examples of such rebellion but no doubt every senior government and military response will be analysed. Another notch for the Russian government emanating from Saturday’s events.
Carried off on a wave of exuberance at Wagner’s actions, on Saturday morning Ukraine’s military command decided to announce the counter-offensive in earnest, proclaiming assaults and breakthroughs from Bakhmut to Zaporizhia and beyond, and in doing so revealed to Russian military intelligence the whereabouts of their equipment, convoys and ammunition dumps which were duly attacked yesterday evening and through the night. Needless to say the Russian MoD announced high Ukrainian casualty figures. And this is another advantageous outcome for the Russian state, a false-start offensive.
Returning to the Belarus link to these events, it is curious that most Wagner forces are reportedly already in Belarus and had been transferred there it would appear very recently, It seems somewhat odd that the outcome of the so-called coup was an agreement involving the remnants of Wagner PMC being transferred to Belarus and along the Ukraine-Belarus border, accompanying other forces in a build up that is one-hour from Kiev.
It begs the question, with no reliable footage of Prigozhin’s claims that Wagner was marching on Moscow, and all eyes on Rostov-on-Don, were they really marching towards the Belarus border? Again we may never know for sure, but we can be confident that Putin’s government and Russia’s military can only benefit from both the build-up and the confusion.
To close, the jubilation in ‘Western’ corporate media and politics at events in Russia on Saturday revealed a paucity of reality in formal ‘Western’ institutions, little to no reality in the way they analyse, objectify and communicate. They gleefully wallowed in thoughts of one of the most powerful nuclear states falling into the hands of a one-time armed robber and founder of a Mercenary army. No thought for tomorrow, just this blinding moment.
Not only did ‘Western’ institutions fail to accommodate such thoughts, they could not even think to try and verify the propaganda they were spreading and, to be clear about it, the tripe, that was circulating. What is verification I guess when the story suits the paymaster’s objectives.
What exactly happened in Rostov-on-Don on Saturday the 24th of June 2023 we most likely will never know. A grand Psyc-op? A genuine coup attempt originating with NATO and Ukraine? Did Putin know about it and let it happen to bring a growing problem to a head? We’ll never know. What we do know is that Russia now appears more grounded, united determined than ever with a military that has been denuded of Wagner but retains it’s most loyal and experienced fighters.