The Center of Gravity Wobbles
The Lesson of Russia's Wagner Rebellion
I hadn’t intended to write today about the war in Ukraine—I was going to wait a few more days for further developments. But further developments dropped into our laps late last night as Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group of neo-Nazi Russian mercenaries seem to have set out in a march toward Moscow to overthrow Vladimir Putin.
The details of how this happened, and who is doing it, are very unexpected. I thought Prigozhin would carry on his longstanding feud with the regular Russian army and its commanders but would not dare to challenge Putin. He would play his role as the sanctioned internal opposition used to keep Putin’s other toadies from becoming too complacent. I never expected he would take on the entire regime. Neither did he, I suspect, and for reasons I’ll explain in a moment, this whole thing smacks of desperation. It is equal parts comical and horrifying, which makes it quintessentially Russian.
But in a wider sense, none of this is unexpected.