EXTRA WEEKEND EDITION: Moscow under full military lockdown. Prigozhin seizes military command over Ukraine. Putin cries "treason" and his jet is seen fleeing toward St. Petersburg, transponders off.
Saturday morning, Prigozhin’s Wagner forces easily and effectively seized command over Russia’s Ukraine military headquarters at Rostov-on-Don, probably their easiest-won battle of the entire war because they faced no resistance as Russian leaders fled from the advancing Wagner forces. Prigozhin warned 25,000 troops were advancing to seize Moscow, while reports say Putin has fled town.
Prigozhin upon taking control of Russia’s military HQ and discovering the true data:
When we came here, we once again confirmed: a lot, a huge amount of territory was lost. Soldiers were killed three, four times more than reported to commanders. And what is reported is 10 times less than they say on TV. Losses per day amount to some days up to 1,000 people.
These are the dead missing, the wounded and the so-called refuseniks, who refuse not because they are afraid, but because they have no way out, no ammunition, no control. The Chief of the General Staff fled from here as soon as he learned that we were approaching the building.
Earlier, in a video of his own (linked to below), Prigozhin laid bare Putin’s lies that were his pretense for his invasion:
The war was not needed in order to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine…. Ukrainian forces are pushing the Russian army out. We’re wallowing with blood!… What they are telling us is a deep fake.
Prior to fleeing to safety, if in fact he has, Putin issued his own state video declaring unequivocally Russia is now in a state of civil war. (Also posted in the headlines below.) You can see how desperate he looks in that video as he fabricates lies on top of his old lies to justify his failed war in an attempt to get the Russian people to stay out of the conflict that is now being fought on Russian soil by Russians against Russians, warning them not to side with Prigozhin. They are the words of a desperate man. As I said in yesterday’s editorial, this is what failure in war looks like – the leaders turning on each other to blame each other for the failure. This is collapse.
So far, a Russian spy plane has been shot down and a fuel depot blown up.
Of course, anti-West conspiracy theorists, who sometimes seem to hate their own country more than imperial Russia, are rushing today to explain why their theories about NATO being the cause that justifies Putin’s War as well their claims that Russia would easily win and that Putin was not imperial like the West is – the very people who once praised the vile Prigozhin for his strength – were all just blown out of the water. They are now claiming Prigozhin must have had a mental breakdown, but with zero evidence to support the claim, other than the fact that he disagrees with the views they have been presenting for a year as facts.
These desperate, go-to explanations are rapidly being concocted to explain why Prigozhin is fully contradicting the fabrications presented in all their conspiracy theories. It is their effort to explain away Prigozhin’s contradiction of everything they have been writing about the conflict now that he is inside Russian HQ and has direct access to the actual field data the leadership has been hiding and claims Russia greatly minimized its losses all along. It’s is their go-to-explanation until they can figure out another one for Prigozhin’s denunciation of Putin’s lies as the fierce Prigozhin now declares openly that claims about NATO aggression were nothing but a pretense for the ambitions of Russia’s own military-industrial complex by leaders who wanted fancier decorations in their coffins.
Prigozhin must be certain of such claims in order to risk turning his comparatively small mercenary forces, right after capturing this Russian high command position, against the entire strength of the long-feared Russian military and against one of Russia’s longest enduring and formerly most-admired leaders — his own former friend — claiming everything those leaders have said is “the big lie.” And it appears he easily got all of this troops to follow his orders as they march confidently into the Russian HQ and then on to Moscow in the video and images below.
The bottom line here is simple: The only leader who was having any serious success in Ukraine has fled little Bakhmut under Ukraine’s new offensive and has stated clearly that the Russian deep state is lying with “deep-fake” news. The real truth is that this is an all-out bloodbath for Russia with ten time greater casualties than Putinazi’s apparatchik would ever admit to the Russian people on TV. Putin, himself, now states the whole situation has devolved into a civil war inside Russia.
In a followup article, just before posting this edition of The Daily Doom, Prigozhin now says he has instructed his forces not to complete their march into Russia in order to spare Russian blood. His forces have stopped a mere 200 Km short of Moscow. Is that because Putin has fled or because he sees Putin’s forces will win? We can’t know at this point as the fog of war and smoke still covers the battlefields. Maybe Prigozhin is content with having seized control over Russia’s military front or has won some unknown concessions. There has been no comment from the Kremlin.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko claims he negotiated a deal with Prigozhin after previously discussing the issue with Putin. Lukashenko’s office says Prigozhin has agreed to his offer and to halt the Wagner group’s advance and take further steps to de-escalate the tensions. Whether Prigozhin’s coup wins or not or has already won enough to keep Prigozhin at bay, this is a disaster for Putin.
Moscow on Saturday erected checkpoints with armored vehicles and troops on its southern edge, Red Square was shut down and the mayor urged motorists to stay off some roads as the Russian capital braced for the arrival of a private army led by a rebellious mercenary commander…. Prigozhin’s actions represented the most significant challenge to Putin’s leadership in his more than two decades in power.
The threat to the Kremlin became serious enough that crews dug up sections of highways into the area to slow up the assault. A civil war on this scale would be a situation where both sides lose, where Russia loses as a nation no matter who wins. The government may retain power, but its losses and humiliation would likely be severe, even if it eventually obliterated Prigozhin’s smaller forces. Damage to the beautiful Kremlin itself could become devastating to Russian citizens.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and a former CIA analyst, called the events in Russia “breathtaking” and described the unfolding fighting as “the clearest public confirmation of the folly of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Remember: Wagner, a private military force, was brought into Ukraine and put on the frontlines because of the failures of Russia’s regular military. This would be the equivalent of the U.S. military depending on an armed defense contractor, and that contractor then turning on U.S. leadership and marching to Washington. The weakness of the once-formidable Russian military is stunning,” she said in a statement.
It is a humiliating take-down of Russia’s military to be sure, which managed almost no resistance. The fact that Prigozhin’s forces were able to penetrate so deep into the nation from Ukraine in so very little time, threatening a coup against the Kremlin is, in itself, damaging to Putin as well:
Many inside the elite will personally blame Putin for the fact that everything went so far and that there was no proper reaction from the president in good time. Therefore, this whole story is also a blow to Putin's positions.
It is the most direct challenge to Putin’s authority during his 24-year reign – and a reign is what it is, having rewritten the constitution to make sure he could stay in power longer than it originally allowed because a transition of power was not something imperial Putin would ever suffer quietly.
As one political scientist observes, “This unprecedented situation confirms to the elites that the time for stability is over, and that the state that we thought was all-powerful has flaws. The seat of power today is a slightly more shaky chair than it was yesterday.”
That much is to say the least.
Embrace the truth. It is SOOO much easier than all the conspiracy theories. You don’t need them. Apply Occam’s Razor – the most economical answer for explaining what is happening is most likely the correct answer. If you need explanations to cover previous failed explanations and projections, then that is not likely where the truth resided all along. The view that is true is the one that is also most likely to project out to what actually happens. Fantasy tends not to play out. Simply embrace the truth! And remember, truth NEVER cares whether you like it or not. So, any of us very often may NOT. Sometimes we may even naturally HATE the truth, but we should always embrace it because the truth simply IS.
(Some powerful headlines in order of the series of escalating events follow:)
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