Putin suffers a coup attempt while I was on vacation
My thoughts after the fact and going forward
Today’s TAT was begun yesterday at 37,000 feet above the US Southwest. We were on the way home from a blissful few days of children, grandchildren and where we gratefully found relief from the Texas heat, in the North San Diego communities along the beach. Sixty and Seventy degree temps beats the frying pan heat of Texas.
I did my best to avoid the news these past few days, but some of our most pressing threat issues managed to sneak into my mostly ignored news feeds. I will try to catch up with them over the next few weeks. The spectrum of these threats are as varied as they are serious. Some examples:
A dangerous threat to the US and the globe over the failed coup against Putin, if we don’t manage things properly with like-minded other nations and organizations
An economy made more fragile with elite wealth interests like US and global oligarchs, pitted against the well-being of working Americans and others around the world
Chinese rededication to their “China Dream” strategy that intends to make China the regional hegemony by 2035 and of the globe by 2049
A primary American political party, dedicated to un-American principles, subservience to a traitor, profiteering for elite wealth and stark authoritarianism underpinned with rabid Christian Nationalism
These points above are just the short list, but also top-tier threats. In the next few weeks, I just may have an occasional “Texas Edition.” When I take Gov. Gregg Abbott and the TX GOP to task in these posts, it will always be relatable to other states with remarkably similar issues that impact Americans personal and national security. Examples would be the TX GOP’s assault on public education, subservience to special interests and state government willfully and unconstitutionally legislating, support for Christian Nationalism.
Today I will take a look at the likely impacts and indicators of the miserably executed and failed coup attempt, by “Putin’s Chef,” Yevgeny Prigozhin.
First, the shortest possible background: At the end of last week, Prigozhin, owner of a Russian sponsored, PMC/ Private Military Corporation (private army) that had carried out much of Putin’s dirty work for years, attempted a coup of the Kremlin. He and his convoy of troops/ tanks etc. got within 100 miles of Moscow when it became apparent that the generals he had included in the plot, failed to join in the coup attempt. There was no official support from those military leaders nor a popular uprising by the Russian people. IC/ Intelligence communities will analyze this failed attempt for months, maybe years but there are some very clear indicators at this early date. Most will be validated over time as more intelligence is publicly available.
The most apparent indicators not already discussed in credible media:
Putin still has somewhat reasonable control over key elements of the military and intelligence services, though far from solid.
For all of Prigozhin’s work in influence operations for Russia against all western targets, including the US, ( Indicted by DOJ for his role in influencing the outcome of the 2016 US election) and Britain (Brexit) specifically and all NATO and NATO friendly nations, he apparently has very limited understanding of Russian domestic audiences. If he had, he would have known that even if the Russian people would be favorable to a coup, he would not have been their choice nor would he have a chance to influence them. Bottom line: Putin still controls all Russian media of consequence.
The majority of the surviving Russian generals still fear Putin more than they can invest in a Putin-prototype like Prigozhin. Should someone with a reasonable amount of respectability like Shoigu or Gerasimov led a coup, I personally believe that the coup would have had a fair amount of success. Still there would have likely have been a civil war within Russia but its duration may have been shorter than longer, with Putin on the losing end.
Shoigu is likely the big winner in this fiasco, since he was the public focus of Prigozhin’s very public fury over military incompetence.
Both Shoigu and Gerasimov will now be under even more scrutiny than they already are. Neither have a great deal of day-to-day control over military operations other than to enforce Putin’s micro-managing dictates. Also of note, Putin has largely ignored both, other than to use them as photo op personalities.
In another interesting historical reference that compares Putin to Hitler, this is pretty much how Hitler operated, especially as things in NAZI Germany fell apart militarily. It’s long been said in US intelligence circles that, “Putin is a tactical whiz while being a strategic failure.” Soulless madmen are apparently missing the genes for strategic brilliance and an affinity for deviating from reality.
Prigozhin also apparently has spent so much time running Wagner Group, his own private military, that he forgot or was denied contact of substance, with the actual military.
There is also a serious mistrust of Wagner Group by the military. They are better paid, equipped and supported than Russia conscripts, by a long shot. Had opportunities to be better prepared for war been available to conscripts been known or available, it’s just common sense that conscripts would have been easily persuaded to join Prigozhin.
So… what do these primary indicators mean in the big picture for Ukraine, Russia and the world?
The indicators above are merely a few of dozens. I consider them among the most important though, for a lot of reasons. I’ll weave these reasons into the next few paragraphs.
First and foremost, Putin’s paranoia will be heightened. This means more scrutiny for military and intelligence leaders and Putin’s surviving oligarch buddies. For a brief time, Putin’s military leadership may do a little better so as not to be accused of participating in or being aware of Prigozhin’s coup attempt and staying silent.
Wagoner Group will now be woven into the Army where they will be treated and paid like the rest of the Army, with very few exceptions. This turns into a massive morale problem for the already low morale Russians doing the dying in Ukraine. Remaining Wagner troops, now leaderless and with no clout in Moscow become no better than the rest of the Russian canon fodder.
Ukraine’s offensive gains a morale boost and more opportunities to succeed. Russia’s military is failing on an epic scale. Training, equipping, feeding and supplying Wagner’s troops simply puts more pressure on Russia’s already failed logistics systems. Unless leadership can move quickly to manage the integration of Wagner forces into other frontline units effectively, Ukraine garners a serious advantage and at the worst possible time for the Kremlin, since Prigozhin’s hordes have had the little success that Russia can claim in the war.
Quick and painless integration of Wagner with other frontline units, is a pipe dream. Remember that the only semi-trusted leadership is Shoigu and Gerasimov, who have little power to act based on professional expertise. Putin is not likely to begin listening to them now, nor empower either to take a very active role that may end up in glorifying them, at Putin’s expense. Russia’s already strained defenses and alleged, counter-offensives in Eastern Ukraine run the risk of failing, maybe catastrophically.
The Russian people will hear of the coup and it will further demoralize them, despite Putin’s control of media. The Russian people, restive as always under the thumb of oppressive government are beginning to see the historical parallels between Putin and Nicholas II, all the more clearly.
Some of those parallel’s
Those Serfs fought for elite wealth, titled landowners, not themselves. Today’s oligarchs are Putin’s “titled landowners”
Word of Revolution consistently trickled out of an active underground, despite the Tsar’s control of official media in the run up to the 1917 revolution. Putin is losing the battle with covert and underground sources of news available to large segments of the Russian people
Overwhelming casualties from poorly managed Russian forces, soured already over-worked and poorly rewarded serfs and their families. The same is occurring in Ukraine to today’s troops and their families.
Putin’s few successes with foreign allies and partners, will now come under intense scrutiny abroad.
Modi will now have to clean up his act somewhat, regarding his assistance to Putin.
Pushing Modi one step further from Russian support comes at the worst possible time for Putin and this will make Xi even more certain of his strategy regarding Russia
Xi’s BRI or as some call, Silk Roads, is the key to his strategy to become a unilateral super-power by 2049. One fallout of the Xi/ Putin temp bromance is that China must keep her options open for any Putin successor, thereby diminishing the bromance partially.
Iran, with few options but China, India and of course Russia, will have some very tough decisions to make should things get any worse for Putin. They are as they say, “in a hole and continue to dig deeper.”
Don’t even get me started on OPEC + and their slow but steady march towards Russia, China, India etc.
In summary, all of these points are deserving of a long, detailed report. Today, we are only scratching the surface. Still, all of the above are exploitable opportunities for the US, NATO and especially for Ukraine, battling a genocidal, overtly corrupt thug. The biggest advantage goes to the RBIO/ Rules-based, International Order, if they can understand and act in an effective, timely manner.
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the globe has entered a phase of global realignment. In most well-informed opinions, the RBIO did not capitalize on this and solidify international law, policies and norms that are effective in maintaining stability, and in marginalizing the authoritarian thugs that we’ve seen dominate global affairs for the past decade or so. Thugs like Putin, Xi, Trump, Bolsonaro, Modi, Erdogan, Orban’, Kim Jong Un etc., have had at least a decade to turn the world into their personal oligarchies. Some like Trump and Bolsonaro have failed while all the others have had their “wings clipped” substantially. The global trend has been mostly positive for the RBIO but if we don’t continue to progress towards effective and moral stability, we will never be able to take on the collective challenges posed by climate, technology, food-insecurity, disease etc.
The bottom line to Prigozhin’s failed coup is that it’s an opportunity that the RBIO, must exploit in a positive, and ongoing effort. Not only does Ukraine’s survival require it, but it’s also the best opportunity to date, to push other strategic thugs back under the rocks they crawled out from under.
Thanks to all for your patience during my few days of vacation time,