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Be Very Skeptical Of US Intel Claiming That Surovikin May Have Helped Plan Prigozhin’s Coup
Nothing that the US says about Russia should ever be taken at face value, especially when it concerns the most sensitive affairs of its leadership.
The New York Times (NYT) published a piece on Tuesday citing unnamed US officials who claimed that their country’s intelligence services believe that Army General Sergey Surovikin was aware in advance of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s failed coup attempt and may even have helped planned it. Their sources also alleged that other Russian Generals might have been involved as well since they claim that the exiled mercenary leader wouldn’t have launched his armed rebellion unless he expected support.
To the NYT’s credit, they informed their audience that “much of what the United States and its allies know is preliminary” and that “American officials have an interest in pushing out information that undermines the standing of General Surovikin”. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rubbished this report on Wednesday, however, saying that “I think that now there will be a lot of gossip, speculation on this issue [the armed mutiny] and so on. I think this is one of such examples.”
Observers should be very skeptical of US intelligence claiming that General Surovikin may have helped plan Prigozhin’s coup since even the NYT candidly admitted that their country has a reason to propagate disinformation about him. The target of their latest information warfare attack actually recorded a video the night that Prigozhin’s coup began calling on him to stop in order to avoid bloodshed. Even if he was speculatively in cahoots with him, that should have signaled to the Wagner chief that his plot was foiled.
There’s no reason right now to believe that General Surovikin was involved, however, since the notion that Prigozhin wouldn’t have acted unless he expected support doesn’t mean that he launched his coup after explicitly receiving such from high-level collaborators in the Defense Ministry (DM). After all, he might have simply misinterpreted grumbling from officials like him about Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and/or Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov as suggesting support for his secret plans.
Nevertheless, it’s important for the security services’ investigation into these events to complete its course without foreign meddling, which is what the NYT’s latest report can be regarded as. It appears aimed at making Russians think that General Surovikin is guilty so that President Putin feels pressured to remove him, which that outlet predicts “would undoubtedly benefit Ukraine, whose Western-backed troops are pushing a new counteroffensive that is meant to try to win back territory seized by Moscow.”
In the event he decides not to do anything, then the Western media and that de facto New Cold War bloc’s officials could then spin this as “proving his weakness” with all that entails for his future. This strategy is similar to the one that was earlier employed in mid-May after the Washington Post (WaPo) claimed to have obtained previously unreported documents from the Pentagon leaks alleging that Prigozhin was in cahoots with Kiev.
As was analyzed in hindsight here about how the Wagner chief ended up being their “useful idiot”, it was arguably the case that this particular information provocation was meant to exacerbate the rivalry between his group and the DM. Both sides were pressured to act first against the other: Prigozhin could have pushed his coup plans ahead if he thought that the DM might exploit that report as the pretext for an impending crackdown; and the DM might have thought they had to root out a dangerous traitor.
Informed by this recent precedent, it might very well be the case that the NYT’s latest report about what’s being presented to the global public as American intelligence’s latest assessment is also motivated by the desire to manipulate Russia’s internal political dynamics at the highest level. The specific intent is to pressure President Putin into removing General Surovikin out of fear that his authority would be discredited in the eyes of his people if he doesn’t.
The premises upon which this influence operation is being waged are false, however, which is why it won’t succeed except in misleading their fellow Westerners (including those among the Alt-Media Community who generally sympathize with Russia but are prone to believe the latest conspiracies). For starters, President Putin isn’t influenced by public opinion when making any decisions, especially those regarding national security such as this one.
Second, the Russian public isn’t all that influenced by the Mainstream Media as it is, let alone claims from their existential enemy’s intelligence officials who they instinctively distrust. The third reason is that unnamed US officials already admitted to their country’s media that they withheld their detailed information about Prigozhin’s plans from their allies and Russia alike in order to let events unfold on their own. Another source then explained why when revealing that the US expected a lot of bloodshed.
That last-mentioned detail is reason enough not to believe that the latest reports are being shared with the public for supposedly altruistic reasons related to helping President Putin protect himself from suspected traitors like they’re framing General Surovikin as being. To the contrary, it suggests that the reason why they’re sharing this information now is to provoke even more bloodshed, albeit this time inflicted by Ukraine upon Russia by possibly giving it an edge on the battlefield if he’s removed.
To be absolutely clear, President Putin will make whatever decision he believes is aligned with his country’s national interests after his security services’ investigation into events is concluded, thus meaning that his speculative removal would be done for those reasons and not because of any pressure. Having clarified that, it’s relevant to reiterate what was written earlier about how there’s no reason right now to believe that General Surovikin was involved in plotting Prigozhin’s coup or is under investigation.
From the looks of it, these claims are being made to provoke the same sort of internal political divisions inside Russia as those that were earlier shared by WaPo last month. Nothing that the US says about Russia should ever be taken at face value, especially when it concerns the most sensitive affairs of its leadership. General Surovikin should be assumed innocent unless President Putin is convinced that he’s guilty since wildly speculating about his patriotism services to advance the US’ divide-and-rule agenda.