June 26, 2023


What the Hell Just Happened in Russia?: A perceptive Estonian military analyst breaks down Yevgeny Prigozhin's abortive coup (Michael Weiss and Holger Roonemaa, June 26, 2023, New/Lines)

To make sense of this vertiginous affair, New Lines turned to a senior Estonian analyst with years of experience tracking Russia's military affairs. The analyst, whom we have called "Karl" to protect his identity, has proved prescient about the course Russia's war would take. He predicted in March last year -- when Kyiv was still very much under siege -- that Russia's offensive in Ukraine would quickly grind down.

New Lines: What was it that we all actually saw in those 24 hours?

Karl: This is what the Russians call "smutnye vremena" -- "confusing times." It was the first such illustrative episode of what is happening in Russia in the current era. One guy, who had been given a relatively large degree of freedom within Russia, went out of control and did so quite definitively.

The second thing we saw was that Russia essentially has no military reserves. Everything is on the front line. A 25,000-strong force went into Russian cities and in less than a day made a 1000-kilometer [620-mile] journey, 200 kilometers [125 miles] from Moscow. Resistance was minimal. On the ground it was essentially nonexistent, the air force tried a little. Something might have been organized around Moscow, but if Prigozhin had decided to go all the way, he would have made it to the Kremlin.

Thirdly, it shows that the "pokazukha" [window dressing] built up externally in Russia is actually very fragile. This is not so surprising, because Russian political systems have always been ones that do not break down under the influence of political developments but under the influence of external events.

Posted by at June 26, 2023 12:03 PM