"Prigozhin's Farce Is Over And It Is Clear Who Has Won"
Moon of Alabama (June 16, 2023)

The Prigozhin's insurrection farce is over. I had predicted that it would not take long to end:

About eight hours after I published the above Prigozhin had given up and left the scene.

Prigozhin had launched his hopeless mutiny after the Defense Ministry had demanded that all his men sign contacts with the Russian army. That would have taken away the autonomy of his Wagner outlet and with it a large chunk of his profits. The run of his troops towards Moscow was a desperate attempt to get Putin's attention and to make him reverse the ministry's plans.

To justify his move Prigozhin had claimed that Russian miliary forces had attacked a Wagner camp and killed a number of its troops. To prove that he published a video that shows some trash in the woods but no dead soldiers. It was an obvious fake.

Putin had already publicly agreed to the ministry's plans and he is not the man who reverses his decisions on a dime, or under pressure. After Putin's Saturday morning TV speech, during which he accused Prigozhin of treason without naming him, it was clear that there was no chance for the mutiny to have any success. Many of Russia's governors and high ranking military soon assured Putin publicly of their loyalty.

As far as is known none of Wagner's military commanders and only a few thousand of its 25,000 troops had joined Prigozhin in his lunatic run. No one in Russia changed sides or supported him. When the Wagner troops entered Rostov on the Don the people who talked with his soldiers were critical of their presence. When Wagner were leaving without further bloodshed the people applauded. To interpret that as support for Prigozhin, as some 'western' analysts did, is false. The people were just happy that the whole stunt was over.

Finally the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, likely on request from Putin, got Prigozhin on the phone, used some very strong words and negotiated a deal. If Prigozhin goes into exile in Belarus he will not be bothered any further. But the Russian prosecutors will not yet close the treason case against him. Should he again make a hassle he will likely end up in jail.

Prigozhin may be allowed to take some of his troops with him to Belarus. But the large majority will come under the command of the Russian military and will be transformed into some special unit. The French foreign legion may be an good example for such a force and its potential use.

In previous years Prigozhin's companies had made large profits by catering to the needs of the Russian military. The contracts they have will likely end and his personal fortune will take a big hit. The good days are over for him.

The Biden administration is claiming that the whole affair has weakened Putin:

Some well sponsored 'sources' agree with that position:

As does the Washington Post:

There are also all kind of conspiracy theories. Will Schryer thinks the whole affair was a psychological operation to smoke out potential traitors. Agit Papadakis claims that this was part of some internal conflict:

I disagree with those opinions as I see no sign that Putin came away from it as anything but the winner.

I am joined in that by Larry Johnson who writes:

Watching Russian talk shows, Gilbert Doctorow has a similar take:

The former Indian ambassador M.K. Bhadrakumar agrees:

Today Prigozhin again tried to justify his 'march for justice' as he calls it and again repeats the evidence free claim of the attack on his group. He also claims that his operation demonstrated the problems in the Russian military and the quality of Wagner.

But in fact there was at no moment any danger for Russia. The Russian airforce could have destroyed the Wagner convoys on their way to Moscow at a few minutes notice. His troops in Rostov-on-Don were surrounded by the Chechen troops of Ramzan Kadyrov who had rushed to the city and were prepared to fight Wagner down.

I don't think that there is a chance that Prigozhin will ever have a come back. He is finished and he has only himself to blame for it.