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From: Irish Political Review: Editorials
Date: July, 0001
By: Editorial

Russian Military Manoeuvres: The Comic Opera!

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has attempted to seek an accommodation with the West, but the West perceived this as weakness. Throughout the 1990s it plundered the country and undermined the Russian State.

Vladimir Putin was initially prepared to consider 'liberal' economic and political policies, but then realized that the Russian State would be strangled by the Western embrace.
Even then he was prepared to tolerate the oligarchs who, with Western help, had grown wealthy on the plunder of Russian State assets. They were allowed to keep their money on one condition: they did not undermine the State.
Perhaps Putin felt his accommodation with the oligarchs was a means of keeping lines open to the West. But all of that has changed since the Special Military Operation. The oligarchs sympathetic to Putin have had their foreign assets expropriated and accordingly their influence has diminished.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s fortune was based on catering contracts with the Russian army. So, he was a creature of the Russian State. He was used as a front man in the setting up of a Private Military Company (PMC), which was a vehicle for pursuing Russian interests abroad without implicating the State’s political leaders.

But it seems that the successes of the Wagner Group in Ukraine went to Prigozhin’s head. The dummy thought he could act independently of the ventriloquist!

This confirms Machiavelli's advice against private armies on the grounds that, if they were incompetent, they were useless; and, if they were effective, they would be a threat to the State. It might be added that, if money from the financiers of the PMC is held abroad, the vulnerability of the State is increased.

But it turns out that Prigozhin was more of a nuisance than a threat. Without the logistics provided by the Russian Army, his rag-tag group was completely ineffective.

The State decided to dispense with the services of the Wagner Group in Ukraine. On 26th June Putin announced:

“I express my gratitude to those Wagner Group soldiers and commanders who had taken the right decision, the only one possible—they chose not to engage in fratricidal bloodshed and stopped before reaching the point of no return.

“Today, you have the opportunity to continue your service to Russia by signing a contract with the Defence Ministry or other law enforcement or security agency or return home. Those who want to are free to go to Belarus. I will keep my promise. Again, everyone is free to decide on their own, but I believe their choice will be that of Russian soldiers who realise they have made a tragic mistake.”

The signing of contracts with the Defence Ministry is in effect the liquidation of the Wagner group in Ukraine. The exile of Prigozhin to Belarus, a country led by a close ally of Russia will consign him to obscurity.

The comic opera provided by the Wagner group has now ended.
The restrained handling of the incident by the Russian State will ensure that the Special Military Operation can continue unhindered.