Is this a sign of the end of the “war in Ukraine” or not?
On June 24, troops from the private military company Wagner, which was supposed to be on the front lines of the Ukrainian front, suddenly invaded Rostovnadnou in southern Russia on the orders of its founder, Prigogine. After overrunning the headquarters of the Southern Military District, they set their sights on the capital, Moscow, but withdrew when they had only 200 km to go. The “Prigogine Rebellion,” which caused a worldwide uproar, ended abruptly, with the world wondering if it was a coup d’état aimed at overthrowing the regime. Military journalist Buntaro Kuroi explains.
Wagner easily took control of a military base in the southern part of the country, which was under the control of the Russian army. From there, he drove majestically along the 800-kilometer highway leading to Moscow. If it were a military power, it would have been able to strike the rebellion as soon as it broke out, but this time Russia was unable to do so. If Wagner had seriously tried to overthrow the regime, we cannot deny the possibility that Putin’s regime would have collapsed.
The “uprising” occurred as Ukraine was mounting a counteroffensive. There are whispers that it may have been a plot by the U.S. CIA and other intelligence agencies. Some believe that the Russian regular army was responding to Wagner, which made the raid possible, but why did Mr. Prigogine reverse course just before Moscow and flee to Belarus, leaving his troops behind? There are many puzzling points.
Itsuro Nakamura, professor emeritus at Tsukuba University, sees the uprising as the beginning of the end for Russia.
Mr. Prigogine may have wanted to demonstrate to Russia and abroad the decline in Putin’s leadership power, which has been undermined by his authoritarian rule,” says Nakamura. The president and Mr. Prigozhin had been considered close allies, but their relationship deteriorated in April.
Until then, they had been calling each other directly to check on the status of the war, but President Putin stopped taking Mr. Prigozhin’s phone calls. He began to mention the corruption of Defense Minister Shoigu and General-in-Chief Gerasimov, and even began to meddle in personnel matters, and President Putin became annoyed with him.”
The Nuclear Missile Option
Why did Mr. Prigogine turn his attention to Russia and begin to make his presence known? It is believed that it was because he sensed the signs of a purge.
In fact, President Vladimir Putin has not hidden his anger at Prigozhin, saying that Prigozhin “must be brought to justice,” even though he had once said he would not pursue the matter. Nakamura continues.
After defecting, Prigogine declared that he would dismantle Wagner on July 1, but as many as 25,000 Wagnerian soldiers have yet to disarm. A powerful insurgency still exists, and although he is alive as of June 27, once Mr. Prigogine is executed, Wagner soldiers dissatisfied with the regime can be expected to stage a massive uprising.”
President Putin, humiliated and suspicious by Prigozhin’s rebellion, is likely to move for a “major purge” of senior military officers and close associates, which would be a “bad move. Journalist Kosuke Tsuneoka says that this would be a “bad move.
Russia has a long history of collapsing at the hands of the people after it was discovered that it was actually a ‘tiger on a stakeout,’ even though it was thought to be a powerful nation. The Soviet Union collapsed, triggered by the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Imperial Russia also collapsed in the wake of the Russo-Japanese War.
The decline in centripetal force has been exposed both domestically and internationally. The frightening thing is that he might make a choice that would shock the world in order to maintain his regime.
President Putin could go broke and press the nuclear launch button set for Kyiv. For him, this war is a civil war between the same Slavic peoples. It is not something to be interfered with by other countries.
There is no doubt that this is a situation in which President Putin could destroy himself, taking Ukraine with him.
From the July 14-21, 2023 issue of FRIDAY
PHOTO： Afro Kyodo News