By Pepe Escobar
May 06, 2023:
Information Clearing House --
The puny double drone attack – a combined
Anglo-Saxon neocon provocation – has offered Moscow the perfect gift: an
unmistakable casus belli.
Yevgeny Prighozin, the maestro of private military company Wagner, is
never shy of also performing as a master communicator / troller / psyop
So no wonder when he delivered a recent rhetorical missile –
here, in Russian, on War Gonzo – quite a few eyebrows were raised.
In the heat of war, and on the eve of the incessantly mythologized
Ukrainian “counter-offensive” – which may or may not happen in myriad
suicidal forms – Prighozin went on the record absolutely destroying the
Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD), Minister Shoigu personally, and the
The bombshell revelations caused serial ripples among Russian experts yet
not among the English-speaking crowd, which seems not to have grasped the
enormity of it all, as Russian insiders who analyzed the whole interview in
detail told me.
Here is a noteworthy exception, focusing on the key bullet points.
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Prighozin does flirt with a few absurdities, offered with no proof. Example:
Russia didn’t win both Chechen wars; Putin paid Kadyrov’s father a bribe to
wrap it all up. Or the assertion that the Debaltsevo Cauldron in Donbass did
not exist; instead Poroshenko’s army simply made an orderly retreat intact.
Yet it’s the serious accusations that stand out. Among them: the SMO
proved that the Russian Army is essentially unorganized, untrained,
undisciplined and demoralized; there’s no real leadership; and the MoD lies,
routinely, about what’s happening in the battlefield as well as about
Prighozin is adamant that it was Wagner that launched an operation to
stabilize the front when the Russian army was retreating in chaos following
a Ukrainian counterattack.
His main point is that Russia has all it takes to win, fast and
decisively; but “the leadership” keeps the resources away from the actors
who need it on purpose (presumably, Wagner).
And that ties up with the success in Bakhmut/Artemyovsk: the whole plan
was masterminded by Wagner alongside “General Armageddon” Surovikin.
“Kill me, that would be better than
Prigozhin is confident in his knowledge of where all the necessary
military supplies are kept, enough to fight for another six months. Wagner
needs a least 80,000 shells a day. Why they are not getting it amounts to
Because of Russian bureaucracy – from the MoD to the FSB, no one is
spared – the Russian army “has been transformed from the world’s second-best
army into one of the worst – Russia cannot even deal with Ukraine. Russia’s
defenses won’t hold if supplies are not released to the soldiers.”
Prighozin ominously states in the interview that Wagner might have to
retreat unless they get their supplies. He foresaw the Ukrainian
counter-offensive as inevitable, setting a possible May 9 – Victory Day – as
a starting point.
This Wednesday he doubled down: it has already started, in Artyomovsk,
with “unlimited manpower and ammunition” and it’s threatening to overwhelm
his undersupplied troops.
Prighozin proudly extols Wagner intel; his spooks and satellites tell him
Kiev’s forces would even be able to reach Russian borders. He also fiercely
debunks accusations of Fifth Columnism: emphasizing the need to cut through
state propaganda, he says “the Russian people need to know because they will
have to pay in blood for this. The bureaucrats will simply flee to the West.
They are the ones afraid of the truth.”
That may be considered the money quote: “I don’t have the right to lie to
the people who will have to live in this country in the future. Kill me if
you want, that would be better than lying. I refuse to lie about this.
Russia is on the brink of a catastrophe. If we don’t immediately tighten
these loose bolts, this airplane will disintegrate in mid-air.”
And he makes a quite decent geoeconomic point as well: why should Russia
continue to sell oil to the West through India? He says this is
“treachery. The elites in Russia are in secret negotiations with the
Western elite.” That happens to be a key argument of Igor Strelkov.
The “Angry Patriots Club”
There’s no question: if Prighozin is essentially telling the truth, this
is – literally – nuclear. Either Prighozin knows everything nearly everyone
doesn’t, or this is a spectacular maskirovka.
Yet facts on the ground since February 2002 seem to support his main
accusation: the Russian army can’t properly fight because of a completely
corrupt bureaucratic gang right at the very top of the MoD, all the way to
Shoigu, all of them only interested in making a financial killing.
And it gets worse: under a rigidly bureaucratized environment, commanders
at the frontlines have no autonomy to take decisions and quickly adapt, and
need to wait for orders from far away. That should be the main reason for
the Kiev counter-offensive standing a chance of imposing dramatic upsets.
Prighozin is definitely not alone among Russian patriots in voicing his
analysis. In fact there’s nothing new: he was just more forceful this time.
Strelkov has been saying the exact same thing since the start of the war.
That even coalesced into an “Angry Patriots Club” releasing
an explosive video on April 19.
So here we have a small but very vocal group bearing impeccable patriotic
credentials sounding a serious alarm bell: Russia runs the risk of losing
this proxy war entirely unless dramatic changes take place right away.
Or, once again, this could be brilliant maskirovka – leaving the enemy
If that’s the case, it’s working like a charm. Kiev propaganda outlets
triumphantly adopted Strelkov’s accusations with headlines such as “Russia
is on the brink of defeat, Strelkov threatens the Kremlin with a coup.”
doubling down, insisting that the Russian state really does not take
this war seriously and is planning to make a deal without really fighting,
even ceding territory in Ukraine.
His evidence: the “corrupt” (Prighozin) Russian army did not make any
serious effort to prepare the economy, or public opinion, for an offensive –
in terms of training and logistics. And that’s because the elites in the
Kremlin and the army do not rally believe in this war, nor want it; they’d
rather go back to the pre-war status quo.
So here we go again. Maskirovka? Or a sort of Revenge of the MoD against
Wagner? It’s a fact that at the start of the SMO the Russian army didn’t
exactly get its act together, they really needed Wagner on the ground. But
now it’s a different ball game, and the MoD may be engaged in gradually
reducing Wagner’s role so Prighozin’s men do not capture all the blazes of
glory when Russia starts going for the jugular.
Droned down on the Kremlin floor
And then right in the middle of this incandescent confrontation, we have
the irruption in the dead of night of a couple of puny kamikaze drones over
This was no attempt to assassinate Putin: rather a cheap PR stunt.
Russian intel must have pieced the whole story by now: the drones were
probably launched from inside Moscow or its suburbs, by Ukrainian strike
cells dressed in civilian clothing and sporting fake IDs.
There will be more such PR stunts – anything from car bombs and booby
traps to improvised landmines. Russia will have to step up internal security
towards a real war footing.
But what about the “response” to – in Kremlin terminology – a “terrorist
Elena Panini from Russtrat.ru has offered a priceless, non-hysterical
appraisal: “The purpose of the night strike, judging by the video footage,
was not the Kremlin itself and not even the dome of the Senate Palace, but
the flagpole on the dome with a duplicate of the standard of the President
of the Russian Federation. The game of symbolism is already purely British
stuff. A kind of ‘reminder’ from London on the eve of the coronation of
Charles III that the conflict in Ukraine is still developing according to
the Anglo-Saxon scenario and within the framework set by them.”
So yes: those neo-Nazi mutts in Kiev are just tools. The orders that
matter always come from Washington and London – especially when it comes to
breaching red lines.
Panini argues it’s time for the Kremlin to seize the definitive strategic
initiative. That should include upgrading the SMO to the status of a real
war; declare Ukraine as a terrorist state; and implement what is already
being discussed in the Duma: the transition to the use of “weapons that are
capable of stopping and destroying the Kiev terrorist regime.”
The puny double drone attack – a combined Anglo-Saxon neocon provocation
– has offered Moscow the perfect gift: an unmistakable casus belli.
A Putin “assassination attempt” combined with a drive to sabotage the May
9 Victory Day parade? The Stupid-O-Meter rules that only neocons can come up
with such brilliance. So from now on their messenger, the warmongering actor
in a sweaty T-shirt – alongside his close oligarchic circle – are all dead
Yet even that ultimately is irelevant. Moscow could have designated
Ukraine as a terrorist state right after the attack on the Kerch bridge,
back in October 2022. But then NATO would have survived.
Perhaps Prigozhin’s Twilight of the Gods scenario may have forgotten that
what the Kremlin really wants is to go after the head of the snake. Putin
did provide a serious hint, over a year ago:
interference by the collective West would lead to “such consequences that
you have never encountered in your history.”
And that explains NATO’s panic. Some in Washington with an IQ over room
temperature may have seen through the fog: thus the provocations – Kremlin
drone stunt included – to force Moscow to quickly wrap the SMO up.
Oh no, that’s not gonna happen. For Moscow the state of things is swell;
non-stop sinking of NATO weapons and finances into an immeasurable black
hole. Cue to the Kremlin casually asserting yes, we will respond, but when
we deem it appropriate. Now that, Dear Comrade Prighozin, is the ultimate