The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Prigozhin Launches A Coup Effort (And It’s Over)

Update 3: It’s over. Prigozhin has turned around. He only had one slim chance once he didn’t get defections from them military.

Putin, if he has any sense, needs to get this clown back into prison and disband Wagner or at the very least stop the convincts to mercs pipeline. However it looks like the deal may be that Shoigu gets canned and Prigozhin doesn’t go to prison, in which case Putin has made a significant mistake. (At least if he keeps the deal.)


Well, it’s on. This is why you don’t use mercenaries, let alone mercenaries who are convicts, or trust scum like Prigozhin.

Remember that Prigozhin is to the right of Putin, which is where the threat was always going to come from.

The issue here is just how much of the Russian army will side with Putin. If it’s anything substantial, he wins. If not,  he’s done unless he can occupy the Kremlin. This is why Prigozhin emphasized not enough weapons, etc… it was a stab in the back narrative: “Putin won’t let us win the war.”

Putin played around with the war, unwilling to go all in and used Wagner as a prison to frontlines pipeline. That was a mistake.

We’ll see if it’s a fatal one. This is entirely a matter of morale—what the military will do.

If Putin wins, he will be stronger than before the coup, just as Erdogan was, because he will be able to use it to purge opponents.

Update: I’m not seeing reports of mass desertions to Prigozhin. If’ that’s the case, his odds are slim.

Prigozhin is rushing for Moscow. He needs to occupy the Kremlin and declare victory. If he doesn’t, he’s probably finished in a day or two.

My money is on Putin.

Update 2: Still not seeing any signs of significant defections from the military and the regional governors and generals are siding with Putin.

Prigozhin needs to rush to Moscow and declare victory. If he does, he might win. If not, he’s toast.

Putin’s question is if he has a loyal force in the military that will fire who aren’t on the frontline facing Ukraine. The military is not going against him, but will they defend him? And, as is his modus operandi, I suspect he’s being too cautious about the use of force.


Pax Americana Is A Zombie


Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – June 25, 2023


  1. Daniel Lynch

    For a long while I assumed that Prigozhin’s angry rants were some sort of deliberate disinformation meant to confuse NATO, but apparently Prigozhin really is an unhinged nutjob.

    Agree that this episode is a lesson in why governments should not use mercenaries and especially convict mercenaries.

  2. Z

    One thing that always made me suspicious of Prigozhin is that he made promotional videos near the front lines after Wagner’s advances and didn’t seem the slightest bit afraid that Ukraine would strike him.


  3. Chin

    this may be one of the key moments in History where it could be Prigozhin staging a show to lure Ukraine on an all out attack or a real mutiny where Russia goes into a civil war. China will not sit by if Russia implodes into a civil war.

  4. Feral Finster

    It seems that fame and success have gone to Prigozhin’s head.

    I suspect that Putin did not do anything about him so as to avoid making a martyr.

  5. NR

    I don’t think the danger for Putin is that Prigozhin’s coup will succeed. I don’t think there’s much chance of that, though I could be wrong on that of course.

    I think the real danger for Putin is that the internal strife goes on just long enough to make a lot of the Russian military leadership hold back as they try to figure out which way the wind is blowing. That kind of semi-public show of wavering loyalty would create a LOT of bad blood and suspicion in Russian command circles. And there’s no telling what a Stalnist purge of Russian military leaders would lead to.

  6. bruce wilder

    as usual in this war, I feel I have an abundance of alternative narratives available and a shortage of reliable facts. I am left wondering what are they (for any “they”) not telling me, not taking due account of?

    and I wait for events to unfold, clarifying events or at least eliminating some line of speculation

    Prigozhin mentally unstable? Russia politically unstable? Both could be true, I suppose

    I am told Russia had gone into a heightened state of alert a couple days before Prigozhin moved, supposedly suspecting Ukrainian subversion or sabotage.

    Putin’s usual calculated restraint is being tried and tested for sure, but so is the political coherence of the Russian state, something Putin specifically cited in his crisis speech. I do not know enough about the deep dynamics of Russian politics to understand the place of such a coup attempt in the midst of this war. How do Russians understand Putin’s insistence on confronting the Collective West? What is the full range of their ambivalence? I just do not know.

  7. Bill H.

    Rather that the bulk of the military “siding with Putin,” I think one might more properly say that they are siding with the Russian nation.

    In watching the media and most blogs, both pro-Ukraine and pro-Russia, it seems to me that a point is missed more often than not. That point is that Russia’s concern, and the threat which they are countering, is not Ukraine, but NATO and the US. Sure, Russia could defeat Ukraine very quickly, but that would serve no purpose for Russia, because it would leave the major threat undeterred. So Russia has to manage this operation in a manner which sucks NATO and the US into the conflict and effectively destroy them as well as Ukraine. They are doing this very effectively.

    Notice I say “Russia” and not “Putin.” This is not Putin’s war. This is a war for the survival of the Russian nation. What did we do when the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. Think about the threat that was to us and realize that Russia is reacting now as we did then.

  8. Mary Bennet

    This Prigozhin character is a mercenary, no? So, who offered him more cash? Do we even need to ask?

  9. Soredemos

    It continues to amaze me how anyone ever takes Pregozhin seriously. The goofball has already announced how he’s turning back from his supposed Moscow march in order to avoid bloodshed. So much for his supposedly bold coup attempt.

    He would have had to march something like 700 miles, by the way. It’s beyond silly people are treating this like it was a serious thing that could have ever worked. It would be like some guy with a bunch of National Guard in the middle of Ohio proclaiming a rebelling and then speculating that Biden must be cowering in his office in DC about the ‘imminent’ threat. Biden would be bemused and annoyed more than anything.

    No one is defecting to Prigozhin’s side because that was never going to happen. Russia is actually quite stable politically, and there is no meaningful dissent among the ranks of the military . I have no idea if this is part of some convoluted internal, Kremlin authorized political infighting, or if Prigozhin is just a total clown high on his own supply who genuinely thought this was ever going to be a real thing.

    But if earnest, whatever he thought he was doing is already catastrophically imploding.

    Meanwhile the Ukrainian army continues to get taken to pieces at the front, by the way.

  10. NR

    Well the usual Putin sycophants are out claiming that Putin is a god-king who can do no wrong, but the reality is that neither side can possibly return to the status quo after this. Wagner can’t possibly avoid punishment for marching on Moscow and shooting down Russian military aircraft, and Putin can’t avoid looking weak for caving to the demands of someone he publicly declared a traitor. Both sides come out looking terrible if this is really how it ends. And Wagner may have its own internal civil war at this rate.

    Dunno, something smells here.

  11. Z

    Not sure that any Russian aircraft were shot down by Wagner.

    Some twitter sources that I believe are usually fairly well-balanced about the war are claiming it is true and then others that I feel the same way about are saying there is no proof of it.

    One thing I’ll say is that from what I’ve read there hasn’t been many, if any, Wagner casualties during the insurrection and I would expect that if Russian military aircraft were being fired at that that there would be some retaliation, at the very least.


  12. GrimJim

    “Exile” to Belorussia places the Wagner army a lot closer to Kiev… Which is quite unguarded with the Ukrainian army pushing it’s way east…

  13. VietnamVet

    Mercenaries only fight for money and the adrenaline rush, and never for the state. They will vanished if not paid. It was the DC cops that liberated the US Capitol not the National Guard that just stood by. If anything, the Prigozhin incident shows the similarities between NATO and the Russian Federation. Neither institution are interested in peace or serving their people; only profits for their corporate/oligarch partners. Women were added to US combat units to increase the pool of cannon fodder by 50% but still Americans are so obese, addicted, and ill from upper class exploitation that 80% are unfit to serve in the military.

    “Mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skillful, you are ruined.…you will lose the war.”

    The Western Empire is trying to take down Vladimir Putin to gain access to Russia energy and natural resources. But if China can create a BRICS alternative economic system, in a New York minute, the US dollar and the neoliberal Wall Street aristocracy will collapse. Western civilization, too, if democracy, run for the good of the people, is not restored.

  14. mago

    If you’re military or civilian in a war zone what do you see, hear, feel, smell and touch? Human and nonhuman alike.
    What do you eat and ingest in general?
    How many toxins and substances pulse through your veins and organs daily, and what are the mental and physical effects?
    Tapping on your keyboard and sipping a latte you might think you know, but chances are you and me and all the rest are clueless, including the shell shocked war victims.
    These sudden feints and the ultra violence and the good old in out are Clockwork Orange worthy.
    Who makes this shit up? Not a rhetorical question.

  15. GrimJim

    I dunno, the distance from southern Belarus to Kyiv seems a lot shorter than from Bakhmut to Kyiv… about 400 km shorter.

    And where are all of Ukraine’s forces right now?


  16. Soredemos


    What demands are being caved to? Prigozhin goes into exile in Belarus, the parts of Wagner that stood by him get deployed to Africa, and the ones that didn’t join him get offered regular army contracts (which were something that were already in the planning anyway). And Russian inteligence was active making raids and trying to flush out sleeper cells.

    It’s seriously starting to look like this whole farce was planned.

    Every commentator who took this seriously and treated it like a serious coup attempt looks real goofy right now.

  17. Stormcrow

    Well, it looks like Prigozhin blinked.
    My next question is: how long will it be, before he decides to try flying, like a bird, out of a 10th floor window.

  18. Mark Level

    Hi, Ian. Thanks for the update & updates within the update. I was watching some of the more credible commentators yesterday, the (performative & psuedo-) “coup” attempt was pretty clearly kayfabe in my current opinion. (I could be mistaken, we will see. If Prigozhin is removed from the chess board soon, I will be proven wrong. ) The Duran fellows & Brian Berletic gave me enough info to tease out likely scenarios. The one time I weighed in on a comment board I predicted it’d be all over in 36-48 hours max, well, it was resolved in less than 24, so a bigger Nothingburger than I imagined? Mostly good takes from the Ian Commentariat as usual, but my biggest kudos go to both Bill H. & Z on this event, as Z says, the “honey trap for traitors” & fleeing billionaires suggest what was behind the curtain the entire time, as of press time I understand that Prigo took some kind of payoff from the U$ deep state & then from the central gov’t. (as Bill H. notes, it’s not “all about Putin”), that sounds like a pretty good nest egg & evidently he’s going to have a well-deserved rest in neighboring ally Belarus? . . . Btw, I want to thank Z for being a thoughtful voice on Russia long before NATO pushed them into a corner and forced “Putin” et al to start a defensive SMO . . . I used to be a little suspicious of Z’s “pro-Russia” tilt prior to c. 2022, don’t think I ever called him out, but he was a bit ahead of me (& my perspective is not pro-Russia per se, it’s more anti-Neocon MIC, which to me is not morally fraught in any way, despite some former friends who will currently claim I am dancing on “Putin puppet strings”!!), so I want to thank Z for being ahead of the curve and showing me the way forward a bit. Between Ian & the commentary crowd, this site certainly ranks in my top 5 for pursuit of truth in a time of massive bullshit & disinfo.

  19. bruce wilder

    Prigozhin has long seemed to have some kind of privileged protection from Putin and exile instead of prison for this mutiny continues the pattern.

    Putin’s siloviki state is not so far evolved from the gangster state of the Yeltsin chaos that we can not wonder, too, about the fate of the accused, Shoigu and Gerasimov. Shoigu’s plan to absorb the Wagner troops in Russian territory into the contract ranks of the regular Russian Army was, in some narratives, a trigger for Prigozhin‘s mutiny. Incidentally, does Shoigu have his own PMC? I don’t know but I have seen off-hand reference to such a side-venture.

    American propagandists are often so eager to label Putin the Great Dictator that they overlook the nature and state of Russian politics with its many loci of power and wealth. Russia is still burdened with corruption and inefficiency and a high level of petty violence in cities. I think the SMO revealed many weaknesses in the Russian military establishment, some of which were highlighted by the need to assemble a hodgepodge of irregular military units including Wagner. In this mini-drama, that other prima donna, the Chechen chief Kadyrov made himself conspicuous with bloody threats. A great many political and military chieftains were called upon to make public declarations of loyalty to Putin and the Russian state. One thing to notice is how many such men of significant local power there are in the whole apparatus competing to be recognized as having loyalty worth re-affirming. Videos of common citizens haranguing Wagner soldiers in the streets of Rostov-on-Don are also on point.

    The Russian Federation President is clothed in immense constitutional authority, but authority is not by itself political power. Putin exercises political authority by herding Russian cats among the oligarchs, in the vast state enterprises, in the local and regional governments — the RF has 80-odd constituent republics, krais , oblasts etc. as well as the institutions and departments of the Federal state — not to mention the Orthodox Church and its locally important Islamic equivalents. To my taste, Putin seems more than willing to tolerate a high level of corruption to get cooperation — co-opting Kadyrov to “win” in Chechnya is a prominent example of how willing he is to make a deal with the devil (and apparently how eager and loyal the devil can become.) Putin is not my brand of idealist. But, coldly calculating and cautious, he may not be wrong about how far and hard he can push and get results.

    Bill H. made an important point: Putin is trying to revive a strong sense of Russian patriotism and nationalism. The war with the Collective West is associated with a conservative social politics that rejects western decadence. The extreme Russophobia cultivated in Poland and the Baltic states and echoed ridiculously in Western Europe and the U.S. helps to confirm the thesis. Putin’s rhetoric now is a lot more plausible than were his tone deaf attempts in the first decade of the 21st century to fashion an ideology of Russian nationalism in response to the alienation of Russian-speakers in newly independent neighbors.

    The Ukraine War has become the occasion to build back a core Russian military-industrial complex and a regular military to match. Ian is certain right that reliance on mercenaries is seldom wise, but Putin may not have had much choice at the beginning of the SMO. There was not much else to work with. We may be watching the process of correcting that mistake. That is a narrative worth considering.

  20. different clue


    Is it possible to name the usual sycophants here in these threads who are claiming that Putin is a god-king who can do no wrong?

    If it is too discomforting to name the usual-sycophant commenters here, is it possible to at least run copy-pasted sections of commentary from this thread which would illustrate the concept of “claiming that Putin is a god-king who can do no wrong?”

  21. different clue

    Well! . . . Turcopolier is back online. They have announced that fact in their first “post-shutdown” post.

    They are attributing the cause to a ” horrible error in the migration of a bunch of data-stuff to the Icelandic server” or something. And it could be that. Or it could be an “enemy DOS ( or other) attack” which they have also solved but which they don’t want to mention for fear of heartening the enemy DOS(or other) attackers and giving them any hints as to how to make the next DOS( or other) attack even longer lasting and more effective.

    But since I am a member of the Great Uncleared, I will just have to take Turcopolier’s word for it.

    Anyway, people can again access Turcopolier’s relentless and “fact-filled” pro-Ukraine narrative to compare and contrast it with other outlets’ relentless and ” fact-filled” pro-Russia narratives. For myself, I will have no real all-around idea of what is happening until everything has reached such a conclusive endpoint one way or another that it becomes clear in hindsight, even to my simple self, what has happened.

  22. NR

    @Soredemos: Prigozhin wanted Shoigu out and some reports are indicating that he has been removed, though this has not been confirmed to my knowledge. So we’ll have to wait and see on that.

    @dc: “God-king” was admittedly hyperbole on my part, but at least a few people here are claiming this was some kind of eleven-dimensional chess move by Putin, which is ridiculous on its face. Wagner shot down Russian helicopters and Russian National Guard members died fighting Wagner. Russia blew up fuel depots inside their own territory to slow Wagner’s advance. The Russian National Guard had civilians out of their cars digging pits on the highways to Moscow.

    And what does Putin gain from this? Prigozhin marched Wagner into Russia and directly challenged Putin, who had to flee Moscow. The guy who did this is still alive. Putin looks incredibly weak after this. Even if Prigozhin falls out of a window in a couple of months, the only message that will send to the next guy thinking about trying this is “don’t stop” and “don’t take the deal.”

    Also, reports are that the Wagner troops who participated in the uprising are going to be pardoned and all charges against them will be dropped. What will it do to morale in the Russian armed forces when they see that mercenaries can kill them and Putin will let them walk away scot-free afterward?

    There is no scenario in which these last 24 hours were beneficial for Putin.

  23. Carborundum

    Wake me when someone who doesn’t have skin in the game and speaks and reads Russian has something to say.

  24. Z

    Mark Level,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Yeah, considering how it all shook out it almost certainly was a psyop, a honey trap for traitors, as well as a deception to tactically move dense amounts of troops and equipment. It doesn’t make much sense any other way. And the supreme irony of it all is that Prizoghin, rather than a traitorous heel, is actually a patriotic hero by taking a lifetime expectancy hit for his country by double-crossing Ukraine and the West.


  25. Z


    You been punk’d by Vlad and Yevgeny!

    There is no hard proof, from what I’ve seen, that Wagner actually shot down Russian military aircraft. Of course, if they were credibly going to pull this off they would have to toss in some tales of real-live military conflict such as that.

    What was accomplished by this psyop was that they moved around large amounts of troops and equipment under the guise of protecting Moscow that were probably always destined towards the war front and they shook out some traitors, possibly some at a high level, maybe even some involved in their nuclear weapons program because there may have been orders from Putin to ready the arsenal or some action taken by traitors to do something to ensure that Putin couldn’t deploy them during the coup (this is highly speculative, of course).

    In the who-can-we-truly-trust department, they shook out who in Wagner group is bat shit crazy enough to follow Prizoghin into a coup and apparently those numbers were in the thousands. How do you get rid of these armed idiots? Ask them to lay down their guns so that they can be arrested? Fire them and set them loose armed in your society, many of them who are ex-cons? No, you send them to the Belarus-Poland border, keep long-range weapons out of their hands, and keep your eyes on them by rear-guarding them. The rest, the ones you can trust more, get broken up and absorbed into the Russian Army.

    Does any of this make any sense any other way? King Kong Prizoghin stomping mad towards Moscow in a fit, leading a column of armed rebels down the main highway towards Moscow, twittering about turkey-shooting down Russian military aircraft on his way in, and calling his shot like Babe Ruth by publicly announcing his plans to take over the throne of the Russian government with all 10,000 or so of his men? Thinking he would live for more than a month as Russian leader? Putin has been in power for a very long time, do you think that Prizoghin would simply be crowned and everyone would follow him? Especially being Jewish with the history that has happened there with all the Jewish oligarchs that raped the country of its assets during the Yeltsin years? Does Surovkin under siege nervously fingering a machine gun on his knee as he shakily asks Prizoghin to turn his convoy around make any sense? Wouldn’t he be flat-out pissed-off! And then Prizoghin agreeing to a deal and the whole thing dissipating so rapidly and easily? As you say: something smells here.

    One of the aspects of this war that is rarely talked about because it can’t be accurately assessed is how many moles there are in this conflict. There are plenty of them in Ukraine and at a very high level I’d imagine. Russia has cultivated them for decades now and there are many Ukrainians who favor Russia over Ukraine. The proof of it is Russia’s success blowing up Ukrainian arm depots. Some folks have complained that the Russians have not hit the decision making centers in Kiev. Well, it’s probably because they’d be taking out some of their own valuable intelligence sources.

    There are also many moles in Russia cultivated by the West. It wasn’t all that long ago, around twenty years ago, that Larry Summers’s homeboys had the country totally corrupted at the political level such that when Putin came into power he almost immediately made a law that he could dismiss elected governors on his whim to clean the government up, an action which made him and the person who was heavily responsible for getting him into power, Boris Berezovsky, into enemies. Do you think all of those blackmailed and bribed assets that those oligarchs bought on the cheap when Russia was on its knees were entirely lost when Putin took over?

    Again, nothing makes much sense except that it was a psyop. They’ve been laying the foundations for it for a while. According to the Texeira leaks, Prizoghin had cordial relations, under the circumstances, with the Ukrainians that he was fighting in Bakhmut. There’s rumors that he informed them to stop hitting his guys so heavily and that it would be wiser that they go after less fortified Russian positions in Kherson and whatnot prior to their so-called successful counter-offensive a while back, which may have been exactly what Russia wanted to have happen because they wanted to redraw the battle lines and rearrange their defensive positions. That gained Prizoghin some trust with the West and then he set the stage for his rebellion by going on his very public rants about not being supplied enough weapons. Then recently he made the video that he claims showed the results of an attack on his group by the Russian army, but really didn’t show much.

    Whether or not one thinks it was a wise psyop, that the cost of a reputational hit to Putin was worth it, is up to judgment, though of course we don’t have all of the information required to accurately assess that because we don’t know what may have all been accomplished by this psyop, what traitors were shaken out. I personally doubt that the West and Ukraine fully believed that the coup was legit as they took no overt action to reinforce it, but one thing that the Russians could certainly count on to support this psyop is that the West’s mouthpieces would promote the coup hysteria because they’re drooling at the prospects of replacing Putin.

    I’d imagine though that Russia’s allies would be informed at some level that it was a psyop, afterwards, to assuage any concerns about Russia’s stability. They probably figured it out on their own anyway.


  26. Z

    Makes sense to me …

    By the way, the twitter account @imetatronink is worth following IMO.


  27. Z

    And even if Russian military aircraft were downed, isn’t it possible that this was all part of the psyop and these aircraft could have been unmanned and purposely downed over areas that wouldn’t cause any civilian casualties, of which there were not one mentioned, as far as I am aware.


  28. Z

    The “Coup” (2023)
    Nominated for seven Academy Awards:
    Best Picture
    Best Screen Play – Vladimir Putin
    Best Director – Vladimir Putin
    Best Leading Actor – Yevgeny Prigozhin
    Best Supporting Actor – Sergey Surovikin
    Best Soundtrack – NAFO Twitter Choral Group
    Best Laughtrack – Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Sergey Surovikin, Sergey Lavrov, Maria Zakharova, Dmitry Peskov, and Aleksandr Lukashenko


  29. Curt Kastens

    I forgot to mention in my previous comment that this would not be the first time that a fake coup attempt had been carried out for world consumption. The first time was the fake attempt to overthrow the government in Spain in the early 1980s to make the King of Spain look like a reasonable paragon of democratic values.
    And then there is the Turkish attempt of 2016 that still looks very suspicious to say the least. At the very minimum it is likely that Erdogan had prior warning.

  30. Curt Kastens

    It does not make any sense that my second comment would appear but not my first comment. Did someone assess that it was a counterfit comment?

    Should I repeat the part about the video of the large Russian Military Aircraft being aledgedly shot down? Or will my first comment appear?

    Well just in case. This large aircraft that was claimed to have been shot down by Wagner forces was not a combat aircraft. I forget if it was a Command and Control Aircraft or a survelence aircraft. But in either way it should not have needed to have been close enough to the Wagner Convoy for the Wagner Forces to be able to have shot it down in the First Place. That should be a major red flag for anyone analyzing these events in the first place.
    But did even one person out of 8 billion make a public comment about that before I did?
    The people who produced a video for the Marine Corp University did not say anything about that, other than to say the “fact that the Wagner Forces shot down Russian military aircraft “proves” that the Mutiny was real and not scripted in advance.

  31. Curt Kastens

    Yes I kind of contridicted myself. Is the take away that I just wrote about important or unimportant?? Well it is important to me that the western political establishment has again revealved that the only thing that matters to them is getting what they want. But I guess in the grand scheme of things it is unimportant because it will not result in any changes in the world because there is a lack of people with integrity in the west.

  32. Curt Kastens

    So many pro western commentators continue to spread the idea that the “apparent” Wagner mutiny shows cracks in the upper level (Putin) Russian power structure. Yet the picture that I saw was a completely unanimous power structure opposed to Prigoshny, who even if he were not just a figure head of one firm but an important Corp level commander, should show a level of rock solid unity at the highest levels of institutional power in Russia.
    These comments about suppossed Russian command weakness are so feable it astonishes me that people have the Gaul to even suggest it. Are these people all here on earth or are they only present outside of a simulation were different topics are under discussion? I guess that perhaps the idea of those behind this meme is that amplification makes the reality.

  33. Curt Kastens

    The two comments above are in the reverse order.

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