Many would have thought that the series of incidents, which started in the morning of June 23 this year in faraway southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, would have ended in tearing Russia apart like the current sad event in Sudan but incidentally, that was not the case. For someone like me who lived in Russia for some years and witnessed the breakup of the Soviet Union, I felt strongly that the sudden and brief uprising by Wagner group of mercenaries, led by its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, was kind of a joke that has gone too far.
GENESIS OF THE CONFLICT
Any observer of global affairs and avid follower of the crisis in Ukraine will be familiar with the antecedents of Prigozhin and his group. Severally in the past, Prigozhin had been protesting and threatening fire and brimstone against the Russia’s military establishment, particularly Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Geracimov. From what I understood, the Wagner chief felt that he was not well-supported by the military in his contracted assignment of fighting alongside the Russian forces in Ukraine. Even though, there might have been some disagreements between the three personalities, but that should not have degenerated to the betrayal of President Putin who has been Prigozhin’s benefactor and longtime ally. From all indications, Putin made Prigozhin what he is today. Ironically, the two men are from St. Petersburg.
Prigozhin’s action did not only betray Putin but was also a letdown to Russkiy narod (Russians in general). It is pertinent to note that from the Russian standpoint, citizens’ participation in the Special Military Operation (SMO) in Ukraine is a national service and should also be seen as a sacrifice by any Russian. This is because the war going on in Ukraine is largely perceived as a proxy war against the existence of Russia by the Western powers, led by the United States.
RUSSIA TOO BIG FOR MUTINY TO SUCCEED
Although Russia had a long and tortuous record of experiencing and surviving in many battles in its political history, dating back to the Tsarist era between 1480 and 1917 as well as the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, today’s modern Russia appears more united, resilient and stronger, in spite of the perceptible challenges facing the country for over a decade now. Like I said earlier, many concerned observers, especially the West, its allies and media, tacitly believed that Prigozhin’s brief march towards Moscow would lead to the collapse of the Putin regime and, perhaps, the existence of Russia, a major military power in the world.
However, the composure and mien of Putin, as well as his intellect somewhat averted what could have led to a bloodshed in Russia. All Russians — the military establishment, the elite, the opposition and even Wagner fighters — also exhibited patriotism, camaraderie and love for “Rodina” by not engaging in a firefight or battle. They all appeared to be aware that it would be suicidal and disastrous to fight on two fronts — in Ukraine and at home in Russia.
HAPPY ENDING FOR PEACEFUL RODINA
It is somewhat apparent that some nations, organisations and individuals wanted to sow a seed of discord amongst the Russians, the military and political establishment, but like never before, from President Putin, down to the ordinary Russian citizen, calmness and orderliness prevailed, even as Wagner was approaching Moscow. Overall, it seems like the Wagner incident has ended and efforts are currently aimed at consolidating the Russian unity of purpose in the Ukraine operation. President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus obviously played a major role by mediating and persuading Yevgeny Prigozhin to lay down arms and move to Minsk for talks.
Normalcy has since returned after the brief distraction and President Putin, in his speech four days after the incident, said that the Wagner group would be disbanded, while its members would be free from prosecution over the short-lived rebellion. “We always treated fighters and commanders from this group with great respect, because they really showed bravery and heroism,” Putin said, adding that in the interim, Wagner fighters could join the regular Russian Army, go home or proceed to Belarus. He praised the fighters as “patriots” who had been misled into a criminal adventure.
Lawal Sale is Global Affairs Analyst based in Abuja.
The opinions and views expressed in this write-up are entirely that of the Writer(s). They do not reflect the opinions and views of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or any of its employees. The designations employed in this publication and the presentation of materials herein do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever of the Publisher (Nze Ikay’s Blog) or its employees concerning the legal status of any country, its authority, area or territory or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers. Equally, the sketches, images, pictures and videos are obtained from the public domain.
As usual, the Western Leaders and their Media were very quick to call it a coup without even knowing the details. Oh, the Wester and their Propaganda!
The Wagner Chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin in the Centre of Rostov-On-Don being greeted by locals