Putin Is Paying the Price of His Never-ending War

I doubt Prigozhin intends a coup. Most likely it is a protest against the Russian military brass. The generals don’t like him, because he refuses to place himself and his forces under their command.

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The President Putin chaired a meeting on current issues with permanent members of the Security Council via videoconference on 2 September. [ Photo © Kremiln]

What are the key points of Putin’s address to nation over PMC Wagner coup attempt? Read them here.

Putin is responsible for this, because he has let a conflict continue for 16 months that should have ended in one week.  But Putin wanted to avoid being labeled an aggressor and confined combat to the Russian Donbass.  He got the label regardless, and created a situation of an ever-widening war that he has been fighting with a private military group who are tired of the no-win situation Putin has created by his pretense that it is a “limited military operation.”

I doubt Prigozhin intends a coup.  Most likely it is a protest against the Russian military brass. The generals don’t like him, because he refuses to place himself and his forces under their command.  As the Wagner Group is the principal military force Russia has fighting in Donbass, it is stupid for the Russian generals to foster bad relations with the commander of the troops doing the fighting.  A question I have is whether Putin is being given honest briefings about Prigozhin’s intent or, instead, briefings designed to settle the generals’ score with Prigozhin.  For Putin it is just a problem that needs to go away, and he might fail to learn from it.

The way Putin has been conducting this conflict has never made any sense.  By refusing to use sufficient force to end the war, Putin has widened the war to the extent that Washington and NATO are involved, and he has apparently lost the confidence of the Wagner Group commander and, for all I know, the Wagner troops.

How is it possible that Putin, the Kremlin, and the Russian military do not comprehend that wars must be quickly be won as their continuation offers endless opportunities for many mischiefs?  

It is possible that there has been no coup attempt.  The weak evidence suggests that it could be a staged event from outside to disrupt the Russian front lines or an inside staging to get rid of Prigozhin:

“Earlier in the day, footage and audio attributed to Wagner troops and Prigozhin surfaced online alleging that a ‘missile attack’ had been launched at a Wagner camp, and that the strike was ‘delivered from the rear, that is by forces of the Russian Defense Ministry.’ The voice attributed to Prigozhin appeared to call for the ouster of the Defense Ministry’s leadership. The footage and audio were immediately jumped on by Ukrainian and US state-funded media outlets, which have been reporting heavily on Prigozhin’s criticism of Russian generals in recent weeks.”  

It is not unusual for generals to conspire against one another.  US generals conspired against Patton. German generals conspired against Rommel. Confederate General Hood conspired against General Johnson with the result being the loss of Atlanta to General Sherman.  There are endless examples.

If you think about it, how can frontline troops stage a coup against a distant capital?  If they leave the lines, the enemy pours in.  Moreover, they can be stopped by air power before they reach the capital.

Paul Craig Roberts

Dr Paul Craig Roberts is a well-known economist who received his PhD from the University of Virginia. He was, in the early 1980s, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy under Ronald Reagan. He has been the associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has been a columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns at www.paulcraigroberts.org have attracted a following worldwide.

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