June 24, 2023

Prigozhin's short-lived triumph and Putin's next failure to replace Shoigu

The videos of Prigozhin and Wagner leaving Rostov looks like Prigozhin's triumph Putin only can dream about.  For jealous Putin, this is what a nightmare looks like.

As for the continuation of the story, Putin and Prigozhin understood differently the deal they made via Lukashenko. Putin won't fire Shoigu, which was the main condition of Prigozhin. Not because Putin doesn't want to, he can't. 

The fact that yesterday, Alexei Diumin was called to the Kremlin means that Putin counted on Prigozhin to eliminate Shoigu to replace him with his long-time bodyguard and loyalist Diumin finally. 

In 2021 after the Duma elections, Putin already tried to replace Shoigu with his other former bodyguard Yevgeny Zinichev, who then occupied the same position as earlier Shoigu - the head of the Emergency Ministry. 

However, when Putin, during the retreat to Siberian Taiga, tried to convince Shoigu to move to another position, Zinichev suddenly died in "an accident" during a working expedition to the Arctic. As Stalin used to say: "No man, no problem." As a result, Putin has lost his loyalists and friend, but Shpigu continues to control the army. 

Putin hoped to take revenge this time by getting rid of Shoigu with Prigozhin's hands. Instead, Prigozhin theatrically announced his trip to Rostov-on-Don to punish Shoigu and was amazed that Shoigu didn't wait for him there. And announced his march for justice, terrifying not so much evading Shoigu as Putin's establishment as such. 

After Prigozhin's public exposure of corruption in the Putin administration, Shoigu's false preconditions for a war against Ukraine, accepted by Putin, and the plans of oligarchs close to Putin to plunder the occupied Ukrainian territories, Prigozhin has become almost a greater enemy for Putin than Shoigu, who at least publicly feigns loyalty to Putin.

Therefore, Prigozhin irritated Putin with both the failed operation and even more with Prigozhin's sudden criticism and march to Moscow, meant to punish Shoigu but which looked more like a threat to Putin and his circle. 

Obviously, Shoigu didn't wait for Prigozhin in Moscow either. However, Prigozhin's march destroyed Putin's visibility of power without achieving any goal. 

Putin had vehemently distanced himself from Prigozhin by declaring him a traitor endangering the unity of the country in a critical moment and leading it to a disaster similar to the civil war that followed the Revolution of 1917.

Prigozhin's goals were not achieved. Shoigu still is the Minister of Defence, which disappoints Putin himself, as he still doesn't control the army and lives in constant expectation of a military coup. Neither Prigozhin didn't get in touch with Putin to inform him of the real situation on the front.

Meanwhile, Prigozhin, after getting a rest in Belarus, will recall the moments of his triumph in Rostov-on-Don and, with fresh forces and Wagner rebels, will renew his oppositional activity. Therefore, the developments of the last couple of days could be just a general rehearsal of the historic march to Moscow, which is yet to come.

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