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Maybe Prigozhin is just really stressed out?
Russian pundits say Prigozhin is stating the obvious, while Western "alt media" insists he's just stressed and needs a rest. There's a lesson here, somewhere.
Yevgeny Prigozhin has accused Russia’s top military brass of brazen incompetence and outright treachery. He claims a sustained campaign of political intrigue has led to shell hunger at the front, resulting in unsustainable casualties. Deprived of ammunition, Wagner will be forced to withdraw from Bakhmut on May 10, according to Prigozhin.
What to make of all this? It is very distressing.
Fret not. The Duran has convened an emergency group therapy session:
“There’s a lot of theories…I’ve got my own theory, and I’ll just say that I think Prigozhin needs to take a little bit of time off. That’s my own thinking on this.”
“I think the man is under extreme stress, and has been for a very very long time…He’s clearly at the end of this tether.”
“He is exhausted, he is completely stressed…I think he’s losing track of what he’s doing.”
“He’s clearly lost control of what he’s saying, of what he’s doing, and he needs a rest.”
“He’s a civilian in Bakhmut, in a warzone, and it’s probably a place where a civilian, even a billionaire founder of Wagner, should probably not spend too much time in. Because after a while it obviously is going to affect you.”
For thirty minutes, The Duran pontificates about Prigozhin’s psychological state, without directly addressing a single grievance made by him.
Nothing is said about the well-documented shell hunger; nothing is said about anything, really. (At around the 2:30 mark, Alexander Mercouris rushes through a few carefully selected bullet points that he very obviously poached from Rolo’s write-up of Prigozhin’s interview with Semyon Pegov—without crediting Rolo.)
Prigozhin is simply at the end of his tether and needs a nice little rest. Case closed.
Then, in the last seconds of the video, Mercouris blurts out: “I’m not discounting everything that [Prigozhin] said, but I do think it is time for him to go.”
Well, what did he say? And these things he said—which are not discussed in any meaningful way after 30 minutes of evasions, but also shouldn’t be discounted!—are they accurate? Where’s the context? Where’s the “analysis”?
Since we can’t get a straight answer from The Duran, let’s ask Russian media.
We’ll begin with Svobodnaya Pressa (Free Press), a patriotic, pro-SMO Russian outlet with socialist/Communist leanings.
“Everything that has been said [Prigozhin’s quarrels with the MoD], alas, has not been news to anyone for a long time,” writes Sergey Ischenko. Then Ischenko does something really unexpected: He provides a detailed transcript of all the things that Prigozhin said!
After combing through Prigozhin’s dire warnings and allegations, the author concludes:
The first thing that comes to mind after reading this interview with the head of Wagner is: “This simply cannot be! Surely Prigozhin is exaggerating!”
Okay, so be it. But in any case, the authorities are simply obliged to instantly and publicly respond to this simply devastating text for the Russian generals, and personally for Shoigu and Gerasimov.
Suppose Prigozhin completely lost it and began to viciously slander the army leadership, accusing them of the most serious malfeasance. [Shouldn’t he then be charged with discrediting the Russian Armed Forces?] […]
But if Prigozhin is not brought to justice (and for some reason it seems that he won’t be!)—what can we, mere mortals, think? That the leader of the Wagnerites is right? That the fate of Russia is already literally hanging in the balance?
To summarize: Prigozhin’s problems with the Shoigu and Gerasimov are common knowledge, and if he isn’t sent to a labor camp for discrediting the Russian military, maybe things really aren’t going according to plan?
Free Press followed up with an article about the rampant corruption in Russia’s defense industry, which, according to the author, has left Russian soldiers underequipped.
Let’s turn to Voyennoye Obozreniye (Military Review), Russia’s most popular military news portal. The website is edited by pro-military turbo-patriots who uniformly believe Ukraine shouldn’t exist.
So, Military Review, tell us: Is Prigozhin out of his element?
I listened calmly and attentively to an hour and a half conversation between Pegov and Prigozhin and his comrades. Twice. If we discard emotions and obscene language, then we agree with 90% of of what [Prigozhin] said.
Let's start from the end, because at the end of his speech, Prigozhin formulated what he and his comrades-in-arms had been talking about for an hour and a half. And, I must say, theses are not the most pleasant topics to touch upon.
1. The army must fight with shells.
2. The army must fight with normal control.
3. All military bureaucrats from the RF Ministry of Defense must go to the front line in order to understand the realities of the situation.
4. Stop lying to yourself and everyone else, reduce the amount of propaganda, evaluate the enemy normally and understand that there will be a counteroffensive. And it can become a tragedy for Russia. […]
The fact that show-offs and liars are sitting at the top of our military has been clear for a long time. The Ukrainian military, which according to reports from our Ministry of Defense has been repeatedly destroyed, continues to rise from the ashes like a phoenix and resist. […]
Management really begins from the trenches and ends in the offices of the Moscow Region. And vice versa. And both lines are required to work like clockwork. But alas, what happened to the Russian army over the past 30 years shows that everything is completely different from what [the Russian MoD] says. […]
I would like Prigozhin’s harsh criticism to have at least a minimal impact on the bureaucratic swamp of Russian reality. […]
Prigozhin said many interesting things that coincide with our point of view. Of course, in some ways he goes too far—Russia will not die without shells, but it will simply lose pieces of the Kherson, Zaporozhye, Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
But damn it, GIVE WAGNER SHELLS!!!
So what you’re saying is…it’s not stress-related?
Now a few words from veteran milblogger DonRF:
There are only two options - Mr. Prigozhin, saying bad things about people with surnames similar to the names of the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff, and about their children, is right. Or he is wrong. That's all.
If he is right, if these are the sincere words of an elderly man who buries his employees every day, then the Supreme Commander needs to urgently take action. […]
If he is wrong, then he must be arrested today and brought to trial by a military tribunal. As you can see, everything is simple.
But I actually wanted to talk about something else, in addition to the guys from the PMC Wagner, who are heroes, without conditions, there are other guys—guys in the Russian army. [A report from the front:] “Heavy battles have intensified in the Ugledar direction. Commanders from the field report that the situation is difficult, but under control. There was no breakthrough. And yes, more shells would not hurt.”
This hints at some kind of SYSTEMIC problem with [shell hunger].
DonRF is being rather cheeky, because he knows shell hunger is a systemic problem, and has written about it repeatedly over the last twelve months.
A few closing thoughts.
Why is Western “alt media” coverage of this war irreconcilable with the commentary coming out of Russia?
The Russians who write for Military Review (and the dozens of other websites and Telegram channels that have been issuing warning after warning about this increasingly bizarre and tragic conflict) have a lot more to lose than Western pundits if things go belly-up. Surely this should give us pause?
I just don’t understand why there’s almost zero overlap between what Western “alt media” says, and what Russian “alt media” says. They are two separate worlds.
The rift between these two media spaces is so massive that it’s almost as if they’re talking about two different wars. And they are. The problem is, only one of these wars actually exists. Which one?
I don’t want to single out The Duran (the problem is ubiquitous), and forgive my mild teasing.
All I ask for is a level playing field, where we can all work together, in good-faith and good cheer, to answer the elusive question: What the heck is going on in Ukraine?
Part of this process has to include perspectives from patriotic Russians who aren’t on the Kremlin’s payroll. Sorry, those are the rules.
I have no idea what will happen next. Maybe Prigozhin’s outbursts really were a 5D psyop, and he’ll take Bakhmut tomorrow. Who knows?
I do know one thing, though: Ignoring views from the people who have the most to lose is highly ill-advised.
Your correspondent made this observation more than a year ago, in April 2022:
Two distinct camps have emerged among supporters of Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Broadly speaking, “pro-Russia” English-language punditry continues to be as chirpy as it was in the early hours of February 24: everything is going according to plan, Putin is purging the fifth columnists, victory is imminent, et cetera.
A very similar narrative was prevalent (probably near-unanimous) among pro-military, “patriotic” commentators in Russia during the first month of the conflict.
However, by early April, Russian-language perspectives on the “special operation” began to come to terms with the reality that there would be no swift, decisive resolution. In Russia, fervent supporters of the conflict recognize their country is ill-prepared to fight a protracted war against the collective West. Some are now calling for Russia to transition into a wartime footing. “Everything for the front.”
Russian commentators are now warning mobilization is necessary in order to avoid a scenario in which a heavily militarized and forever-hostile “Anti-Russia” remains at Russia’s border—what Putin purportedly set out to prevent.
Yes, that was from April 2022, when there was unanimous agreement among Western “alt media” that the Ukrainian military was on the verge of collapse, and the mere suggestion that Russia should mobilize was considered preposterous and extremely haram.
Maybe it’s time to recalibrate? Better late than never.
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