Wagner and the Crisis of Russian Imperialism

On Friday evening news of an armed uprising, a coup d’état in Russia staged by Yevgeny Prigozhin shook the world and especially the media. Three days later, there seems not so much left of neither the western soggy dreams of an ‘End of Putin’, nor the hysterical fortifications of some of the Russian authorities.

Abroad reactions towards the incident give the impression of stable foreign relation of Russian imperialism. Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi expressed his “full support for the Russian leadership in view of the events of 24 June,” a Kremlin statement said.As the friendly and comprehensive strategic partner of Russia for the Coordination of the new era China supports Russia maintaining national stability realization and development of wealth”, stated the Chinese foreign ministry. Belorussian head of state Alexander Lukashenko alike closed ranks with the Russians and according to rumors mediated the dispute. Hence, nothing new on that front.

The incidents likewise little effected the war of aggression against Ukraine. In the early hours of Saturday 24 the Russian Ministry of Defense published a press release: “Taking advantage of Prigozhin’s provocation to disorganize the situation, the Kyiv regime in the Bakhmutov tactical direction is concentrating units of the 35th Brigade and the 36th Marine Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the starting lines for offensive operations.” But until now no big effect could be noted.

The event was no coup and it was accordingly never aligned as such. What happened was an expression of a necessary struggle for Russian imperialism on the question who leads the armed forces of Russia and of the establishment of a sole high command. Prigozhin pointed all his efforts against to key figures of the High Command of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation: General Valery Vasilyevich Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces and First Deputy Minister of Defense and – primarily – General Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu, the Minister of Defense. It is those two who represent the Armed Forces and it is them who necessarily need to take control over everything, to apply a strict centralisation of all resources of the state under one leadership, due to the war. Through the sharp crisis of the ongoing war, the situation of the reign of the siloviki called inner circle, as a power-sharing system between several state entities like the armed forces and the secret services, has turned its benefits into disadvantages. It does not fit to this war and does not serve victory. It was good for Russian imperialism that the Wagner mercenaries could act independently, when the need was a balance of power for this group around Putin, but now a war needs to be won. The fairy-tale of a secret service controlling the state blooms based on the imperialist propaganda against the socialist camp and later-on against social-imperialism. It needs to be reaffirmed that all political power grows out of the barrel of a gun and the army being the backbone of the state, not the secret service. That is the very core of the so-called rivalry between the strong men. And that is why Prigozhin even when Putin called him a traitor and thereby announced his liquidation, did not raise the word against his old pal. He relied on the former status and did not meet the needs.

Hence, the reason is not the whole cackling spread by media, but essential necessities of Russian imperialism. Therefor Shoigu, in early June, made an advance to bring all the mercenaries under direct control of the Ministry of Defense. This was not a kind of proposal, but an advise to be followed until the end of the month – just now. Prigozhin rejected. “Wagner will not sign any contracts with Shoigu”; “When we started participating in this war, no one said that we would be obliged to conclude agreements with the Ministry of Defence”; “None of the Wagner fighters is ready to go down the path of shame again. And so no one will sign contracts”. Even in early May Prigozhin foresaw the end of the status of the Wagner mercenaries, saying Wagner will end its existence.

Then Putin came into play, taking side with Shoigu and the ministry: “This has to be done and it has to be done as quickly as possible,” Putin said “in line with common sense, with established practice and the law”. 1st ranked military Yankee think tank Rand Corporation estimated ‘check-mate’. This is exactly what Prigozhin confirmed in a statement issued on late Monday.

One should not underestimate the consequences that the incidents may will bring, as well as the severe general crisis Russian imperialism is drowning in or the fact that they will definitely not be able to gain a full-scale victory by conquering – or demilitarize in their terms – Ukraine, as their stated goal. The outcome will be most probably a ‘Korea-situation’, a frozen war, with some large Ukrainian territory in the south and east occupied by Russia. No peace and no calm, for none of the sides.

For now Putin, Shoigu and Gerasimov have settled a military conflict with an outstanding trained and well equipped mercenary troop at least in the size of a division on their home territory within only one day and without any mayor casualties on both sides. This cannot be considered as an expression of weakness, but we need so see the tendency, we can compare it to the development of the German Reich during the First World War: The Kaiser was loosing ground while the OHL (Oberste Heeresleitung -High Command of the German Armed Forces), Hindenburg and Ludendorff, were gaining, because the war took too many resources for two heads. If Putin will stumble or fall, if Prigozhin will be liquidated, if Gerasimov and Shoigu will be replaced, is out of question. The Russian empire is at stake. Hence, no one cares about figureheads.

Note: in the next days we will publish some more information from Russian Maoists on this issue.

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