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Prigozhin Is Carrying Out A Preplanned Coup, Not An “Anti-Corruption” Campaign Like He Claims
To continue with his “anti-corruption” campaign after President Putin told him to stop and not recklessly risk provoking internecine conflict amidst Russia’s existential conflict with the West proves that Prigozhin does indeed want to carry out the coup that he’s accused by the authorities of attempting despite his denial.
Prigozhin is partially explaining his attempted coup as supposedly only being a so-called “anti-corruption” campaign against the Defense Ministry (DM). He denied that he has any plans to seize power and claims that he’s only interested in purging the military of its allegedly corrupt elements who he blames for Russia’s setbacks across the past 16 months of its special operation. While this narrative might resonate with some at home and abroad, it dishonestly leaves out one crucial detail.
An ”anti-corruption” campaign turns into a coup once the head of state’s is challenged, which is exactly what Prigozhin is doing by trying to force President Putin into firing the Defense Minister and Chief of General Staff, presumably with the intent of having Prigozhin and/or his allies replace them. While the Wagner chief always denied having political ambitions, his latest move is political to the core since it amounts to pressuring the government into making concessions under pressure.
This “regime tweaking” agenda has thus far officially remained below the level of explicitly calling for regime change, but it nevertheless strongly implies such an intent due to the very low likelihood of President Putin complying with Prigozhin’s demands, especially in the event that blood is shed. Capitulating under pressure would crush the authority and respect the Russian leader has built up over two decades, with all that this could entail for his country’s stability, hence why he’s loath to do so.
That being the case, Prigozhin certainly has secret plans to replace President Putin since he must have already concluded that this is the only realistic way to replace the top military leadership. The so-called “de-escalation scenario” of Russia’s Defense Minister and Chief of General Staff resigning is probably off the table after the Wagner chief publicly challenged the President on this issue by ordering his mercenaries to march on Moscow. Moreover, the Russian leader already accused Prigozhin of treason.
To continue with his “anti-corruption” campaign after President Putin told him to stop and not recklessly risk provoking internecine conflict amidst Russia’s existential conflict with the West proves that Prigozhin does indeed want to carry out the coup that he’s accused by the authorities of attempting. With this insight in mind, the recent sequence of events leading up to the country’s worst domestic political crisis in three decades since its 1993 constitutional one looks a lot different than he claimed.
It’s unbelievable that he spontaneously decided to order his mercenaries’ march on Moscow in response to what he said was the DM’s bombing of a Wagner camp sometime earlier on Friday, which his rivals and the FSB both denied had happened. Rather, this suspicious incident seems in hindsight to have been his “justification” to the public for why he and his forces commenced their armed rebellion, which Prigozhin seemingly calculated would enable him to claim that shooting at the army is “self-defense”.
No truly patriotic Russian would ever want their historically multicultural people to kill one another, let alone while their millennium-old civilization-state is literally fighting for its survival against the West, thus explaining why Friday’s incident might have been manufactured to manipulate their perceptions. By framing the DM as the ones who supposedly shed sacred Russian blood first due to the alleged greed of what Prigozhin claims is its incompetent leadership, he hoped that many Russians would support him.
Seen from this perspective and recalling what was earlier explained about how dishonest it is to describe his efforts as partially being driven by “anti-corruption” motives, there’s no doubt that the Wagner chief’s march on Moscow was a precalculated coup attempt. It’s unclear how long he and his conspirators plotted it for, but there’s no way that he really thought that President Putin was a pushover who’d be successfully pressured into complying with his demands through these militant means.
Not only that, but there’s also the obvious issue of logistics to consider when it comes to moving potentially thousands of mercenaries around 1,000 kilometers from Rostov to Moscow. Those of his fighters who are going along with this armed rebellion likely wouldn’t have risked their lives to chance, but probably agreed only after being briefed right beforehand about these carefully crafted plans. After all, the possibility of them diving head-first into an otherwise nebulous coup plot is simply preposterous.
Building upon the above, they’d likely also have been told that they had “fellow travelers” within the military-intelligence elite who’d “defect” from President Putin and those two military officials who their boss wants to replace, which is why they thought that there were credible enough odds to participate. Just like their compatriots, the vast majority of them probably also don’t want to spill Russian blood, as it’s difficult to imagine them fighting for their countrymen only to then turn around and slaughter them.
Observers should remember that Wagner was integral to Russia’s victory in the Battle of Artyomovsk so these aren’t run-of-the-mill dollar-hungry mercenaries that are trying to carry out a coup in the world’s largest country but people who literally put their lives on the line for it. This explains why President Putin said in his national address that “I am also addressing those who were dragged into this criminal adventure through deceit or threats and pushed onto the path of a grave crime – an armed mutiny.”
The Russian leader added that “Inflated ambitions and personal interests have led to treason – treason against our country, our people and the common cause which Wagner Group soldiers and commanders were fighting and dying for shoulder to shoulder, together with our other units and troops. 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.” Quite clearly, he truly believes that many were misled.
His words extend credence to the assessment shared in this analysis arguing that most of the participants in Prigozhin’s attempted coup might have been brainwashed into thinking that it would just be an “anti-corruption” campaign done with the approval of allied military-intelligence elite. Once President Putin publicly condemned their boss, they might even have been told the lie that the Russian leader is a so-called “palace hostage” of the DM’s supposedly corrupt and incompetent leadership.
Nevertheless, even if that’s what they really think, the participants must take responsibility for their decision to continue with Prigozhin’s attempted coup despite knowing that it challenges the head of state and has thus plunged their country into its worst political crisis in three decades. At this point a little less than 24 hours since everything was set into motion Friday night, there’s no reason to think that those who are still involved in this aren’t aware that their actions are treasonous.
Accordingly, the overwhelmingly vast majority among the armed forces, other mercenary groups, and the security services who remain loyal to their Supreme-Commander-In-Chief President Putin might very well resort to the lethal force that they’ve been authorized to use to restore law and order if need be. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that since the West would be the ultimate victor in any hypothetical “Battle of Moscow” that Prigozhin would be responsible for sparking in the worst-case scenario that it happens.