The Great Wagner PMC Debate: What Happened? Business Intrigue and Personal Beefs? Prigozhin a CIA Stooge Bent on Deposing Putin? Russian Psyop to Transfer Mercenaries to Belarus Within Striking Distance of Kiev?

Suddenly, Wagner is the talk of the town. The dramatic and enigmatic events of June 23rd and 24th in Russia have taken the world’s imagination by assault.

Automatic ‘experts’ spring from every corner of the internet, and they all have very specific theories that they feel are the only ones acceptable – and all others are crap, they are sure to let you know.

Whether one wanted or not, many dozens of theories, insights and hot takes were circulated from all kinds of people, from very well-informed analysts, to shills, well-meaning normies and the most adventurous conspiracy lovers.

After surviving the deluge, it’s possible to notice that, among the working theories, there are three different ways to explain the ‘coup attempt’, the reason why Prigozhin led his troops to enter Russian territory, proceed to a siege of Rostov-on-Don, and send a small fast detachment to advance on Moscow, before turning his forces around and heading into exile in Belarus.

Roughly speaking, in the opinions splashed on the internet, the developments can be explained by a) a mega business dispute and personal grievance between Wagner’s CEO and Russian MOD Generals Shoigu and Gerasimov. b) a ‘coup’ to dethrone Putin backed by the Western Intel Agencies. c) a psyop, a ‘master play’ by Putin – because the Wagner troops that were 200km of Moscow now are at 100km of Kiev.

Before I discuss each one of these theories, I have to say that they are not mutually exclusive, crazy as it may sound. It’s plausible a reality where more than one of these factors are at play.

The first ‘school of thought’ in this case is what I call the Occam’s razor theory, ‘where the simplest explanation is usually the right one’. This is the theory that I spouse right now, with a moderate degree of certainty.

Priguzhin was being squeezed in his businesses by the Russian MOD. All PMC fighters on the SMO zone now have to sign contracts with the Ministry, effectively ending Wagner’s rogue absolutist rule over his troops.

Priguzhin said no, they would not sign it. The billionaire former caterer also lost lucrative contracts to supply the military forces, so he felt his livelihood and maybe even his freedom at stake.

You could say he drives a hard bargain in the form of a military column headed to Moscow. The advantage of this reasoning is that there’s precious little speculation, all facts are verified and on the record.

By the way, out of his 40k+ troops, only around 8k went into Russia for the ‘coup’, and out of those, most were duped into thinking they were going to fight Ukrainians to defend Belgorod.

The second, very popular theory is that Prigozhin is a treasonous agent of the west, or of the Russian liberal elites, or both.

It’s a pet peeve of mine that people will say “it’s the CIA” or “it’s the Deep State” as a substitute to thinking about life in its complexity. However, I must admit that there are a lot of data points that suggest that this theory is indeed a possibility.

As was demonstrated in the recent Discord Leaks, Prigozhin not only has an open channel of comms with the Ukrainian intelligence services, but also shockingly was willing to exchange information regarding Russian troop positions for a retreat of Kiev’s troops in Bakhmut/Artemovsk.

Yes, for his military victory, he would compromise territorial positions, equipment and troops.

Ukrainians did not trust him to deliver, so maybe it was a ruse after all.

But if you add that to his many spurious declarations about Russian territorial losses that were debunked, his doomer predictions of a collapse in the defense that did not materialize at all, and lately even his declarations about how unjust the SMO was, and how Ukrainians never attacked the people of Donbas – all that paint a the semblance of a traitorous agent.

So the theory goes that he hoarded ammo during the Bakhmut siege to march on Moscow, right in the middle of the enemy offensive, knife in the back style.

But when none of the support he expected/was promised materialized, he reached a settlement to save his skin.

Finally, we have the theory that it was all a masterful psyop by Putin to move Wagner troops to Belarus, 100km away from Kiev, and able to protect its border against the widely expected Polish and Baltic mercenary forces that aim to replace the same Lukashenko that was the negotiator that ended the crisis.

During the first hours of the ‘adventure’, I was a proponent of this theory – I thought the objective of the ruse was to bait Kiev into going all-in and over-committing it’s troops trying to exploit the chaos, so that defenses could decimate them.

It’s Sun Tzu 101: “Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak.”

This may sound like a cope from pro-Russian sensitivities, but you know who thought the very same way? UK’s intelligence services – who strongly advised Zelensky not to jump in and lunch a massive invasion.

And they were not wrong, because Wagner is not involved in the formidable RF defenses at all, and all the shenanigans did not weaken those in the least.

Other theoretical objective of this staged coup was that a great many weak Russian officials fled during the turmoil, or else contacted western handlers – so a purge is oncoming thanks to the situation the crisis created – that’s true.

However, as the Wagner troops advanced, they reportedly shot down a number of RF airplanes and helicopters, and in one case Wagner’s CEO agreed to pay 50 million rubles to the families of the airmen killed in the attack.

At this point the ruse, the psyop lost my adherence, and Occam’s razor was calling me to the much simpler first theory/explanation.

As I mentioned before, the theories may coexist in some fashion, maybe even the three of them – with Evgene Prigozhin as a triple agent for his businesses, his Putin and for the enemy all at the same time.

Far-fetched? Let us know your opinion in the comments!

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