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It’s Unlikely That Wagner Will Open Up A Northern Front After Prigozhin’s Failed Coup
Larry C. Johnson makes some compelling arguments, but ultimately his explanation requires too many sequential leaps of faith to enter into fruition, though stranger things have happened so it can’t be completely discounted either.
Larry C. Johnson, who’s one of the Alt-Media Community’s most reputable analysts and has impeccable integrity unlike some of his peers, presented an interesting interpretation of Prigozhin’s failed coup. In his article titled “Russia’s Academy Award Winning Performance For Best Coup, Prigozhin Scores Best Actor”, he postulates that it was “maskirovka” intended to move Russian military units closer to Ukraine’s border in preparation of opening up a northern front without attracting too much attention.
Johnson speculates that “The entire coup narrative was generated to allow for the movement of Russian military forces to areas north and west of Voronezh without raising the alarm among NATO planners. Russia was moving forces to stop coup plotters as opposed to building up forces for a new axis of offense…This is a way to move Russian troops to areas north of Belgorod without drawing the unwelcome attention of NATO ISR platforms.”
For as intriguing as this explanation is, it’s unlikely for several reasons. First, this analysis here debunks the theory that Prigozhin’s failed coup was a false flag by President Putin, not least because it implies that the latter agreed to have the Wagner chief’s fighters shoot down Russian pilots. Nevertheless, proponents of Johnson’s interpretation might claim that this group could still open up a northern front if the Kremlin opportunistically exploits the latest events to that end, which is more plausible.
Prigozhin’s belief that Russia should escalate its special operation is well known so it’s possible that President Putin told him that he now has the chance to do so himself in order to redeem his reputation. Moreover, the Russian leader recently spoke about the possibility of establishing “buffer zones” along his country’s pre-2014 borders to stop Ukrainian shelling of those regions, which extends credence to this variation of Johnson’s theory.
That said, any such attempt would contradict the strong signals that President Putin sent earlier this month regarding his desire to politically resolve the NATO-Russian proxy war as long as his country’s security is ensured, such as if the US cuts off Kiev’s arms supply. Even if he changed his military-political calculations since then for whatever reason, it’s still unlikely that he’d order Wagner to open up a northern front since it would be very difficult to achieve tangible on-the-ground success.
The element of surprise is long gone sixteen months after the special operation began, which has given Kiev ample time to fortify its frontiers. Russia is already struggling to advance long the eastern and southern fronts so it’s improbable that it would suddenly achieve a breakthrough along the northern one irrespective of whether it’s launched from Russia or Belarus. About the second-mentioned scenario, Lukashenko might be reluctant to have his country facilitate these speculative plans.
He strongly hinted earlier this month that he expects Belgorod-like proxy incursions in the coming future, which could coincide with another NATO-backed coup attempt against him like also warned about. Furthermore, if this occurs ahead of that bloc’s upcoming summit early next month, then it could be exploited to patch up growing cracks within the West over this proxy war and possibly even accelerate the shipment of more modern arms to Kiev. Either outcome could indefinitely perpetuate this conflict.
On the off chance that this is still attempted from Belarus and unexpectedly achieves some tangible on-the-ground success around the Ukrainian capital, then it could be used to pressure the fascist regime to immediately resume peace talks based on the now-defunct draft treaty from spring 2022. Even so, it might not work. Additionally, President Putin said earlier this month that he’d have to order a second round of mobilization if he decided to march on Kiev again, which he said isn’t in the cards right now.
It should also be mentioned that Poland could always lead a formal NATO intervention into the conflict zone in the far-fetched scenario that Kiev risks falling, which could force Russia to freeze its attack out of fear that hitting that bloc’s troops could trigger Article 5 and thus lead to an unwanted nuclear standoff. Since the opening of another front from Belarus has so many obstacles in its way as explained in the preceding two paragraphs, President Putin most likely wouldn’t agree to wasting Russia’s forces like that.
At the same time, however, sending recently mutinous Wagner mercenaries into that deathtrap could cynically serve the purpose of eliminating them without Russia staining its own hands. That motivation presupposes that President Putin wasn’t sincere in describing them as “The heroes who liberated Soledar and Artyomovsk, towns and villages in Donbass, fought and gave their lives for Novorossiya and the unity of the Russian world” in his national address Saturday morning, which is inflammatory to imply.
This twist to Johnson’s theory also suggests that Wagner mercenaries and their chief all of a sudden don’t mind being told what to do despite having just rebelled partially because they didn’t want to sign a contract placing them under the control of the Defense Minister, which they feared might then send them on suicide missions. Moreover, this explanation asks people to believe that those forces would still open up a northern front despite knowing that it could cynically be a way for Russia to rid itself of them.
They fought in the Battle of Artyomovsk so there’s precedent for them diving head-first into danger for patriotic reasons, but they might be reluctant to open up a northern front in the aftermath of Prigozhin’s failed coup due to their possible suspicion that they’re being set up to fail as explained above. Considering the arguments shared thus far in this analysis, it’s timely to summarize them in order to obtain a better idea of just how formidable the odds are against Johnson’s theory materializing.
His speculation is only somewhat plausible in the event that Russia opportunistically exploits the latest developments to this end, not in its original form speculating that President Putin cooked up a false flag coup. Having clarified that, Johnson’s theory is premised on the assumption that the Russian leader’s signals earlier this month regarding his intent to politically resolve the proxy war were “maskirovka” to cover up his secret intent to open up a northern front one way or another despite publicly denying this.
The rest of his interpretation of recent events then assumes without explanation that Russia will achieve more tangible on-the-ground success along a newly opened northern front than the snail’s pace thereof that’s characterized the eastern and southern ones despite the latter initially having the element of surprise. The Belarusian variation of this plan is less likely than the Russian one, and it could even prompt a formal Polish-led NATO intervention in the far-fetched scenario that Kiev risks falling.
Both variations, however, entail immense danger to the participants since Ukraine has had sixteen months to prepare its defenses along those frontiers. The notion that Prigozhin and his recently mutinous Wagner mercenaries would knowingly walk into those deathtraps without any fear of being set up by their Defense Ministry rivals as part of a cynical plot to eliminate them isn’t credible with all due respect. It could still happen, of course, but it defies reasonable expectations about their behavior.
In any case, Johnson’s theory is still intriguing to contemplate, even if only as a thought exercise and after assuming that it’s a possibly opportunistic exploitation of recent events instead of the preplanned outcome of what’s implied to be a false flag coup cooked up by President Putin for this purpose. He makes some compelling arguments, but ultimately his explanation requires too many sequential leaps of faith to enter into fruition, though stranger things have happened so it can’t be completely discounted either.