Yesterday it started with “unidentified” tanks and armed forces entering Rostock apparently unchallenged and the world watched as mutterings of impending civil war spread around the media channels. Today it appears to be over as Putin retains both power and support in Russia.
here’s how it unfolded:
Wagner has reportedly surrounded the Southern Military District Headquarters
There was a huge amount of uncertainty and confusion when I filed my frenzied 2AM report about Prigozhin going rogue.
Things are still very uncertain, strange, and weird. However, there appears to be some … clarity? For lack of a better term.
Local media has confirmed that “the center [of Rostov] was occupied by unidentified military forces.” It appears these unidentified but heavily armed men (who have tanks, etc.) have surrounded Russia’s Southern Military District Headquarters…Read more at link
UPDATE (NOON TBILISI TIME): PUTIN GAVE AN ADDRESS SAYING ROSTOV WAS NO LONGER UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE RUSSIAN MILITARY, AND ORDERED SECURITY FORCES TO TAKE NECESSARY MEASURES TO RECLAIM THE CITY. (TRANSCRIPT)
And from Reuters:
“…LITTLE PUSHBACK FROM ARMED FORCES
Wagner’s lightning insurrection appeared to develop with little pushback from Russia’s regular armed forces, raising questions about Putin’s hold on power in the nuclear-armed nation even after the abrupt halt to Wagner’s advance.
Earlier, Prigozhin said that what he called a “march for justice” was intended to remove corrupt and incompetent Russian commanders he blames for botching the war in Ukraine…
“‘WILL THERE BE CIVIL WAR?’
The fighters led by Prigozhin, a former convict, include thousands of ex-prisoners recruited from Russian jails.
His men fought the bloodiest battles of the 16-month Ukraine war, including for the eastern city of Bakhmut. He railed for months against the military’s top brass, especially Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, accusing them of incompetence and of withholding ammunition from his fighters.
This month, he defied orders to sign a contract placing his troops under Defence Ministry command.
He launched the apparent mutiny on Friday after alleging that the military had killed many of his fighters in an air strike. The Defence Ministry denied this.
He said he had captured the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District without firing a shot in Rostov, which serves as the main rear logistical hub for Russia’s entire invasion force in Ukraine. The surrounding area is also an important oil, gas and grains region.
Residents of the city had milled about calmly, filming on mobile phones as Wagner fighters in armoured vehicles and battle tanks took up positions...
“Will there be civil war?” a woman in Rostov asked the mercenaries. “No, everything will be fine,” one answered. SOURCE
Martin comments: While the MSM accounts (unsurprisingly) use this incident to call into question Putin’s grip on power, actually it shows smart tactics on the Russian leader’s part. Imagine if this situation had been dealt with in a manner that involved violence and open military action? The situation was handled bloodlessly and without fuss, the insurgents having done a U-turn on a claimed intent to march on Moscow. As the NYT reports, Putin seems to have retained the support of the Russian people:
Throughout Saturday’s drama, there were no immediate signs that Mr. Putin’s hold on power was about to crumble, with no one in the Russian elite publicly siding with Mr. Prigozhin. Other powerful men at the nodes of Mr. Putin’s informal power structure — like Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman leader of the southern Russian region of Chechnya, who controls his own paramilitary force — voiced their support for the president on Saturday.Putin Embraced Turmoil. Now It Is Rattling His Leadership. – The New York Times (nytimes.com)