Two sides of the fascist coin: the struggle and farce between the “Wagner” PMC and the Ministry of Defense

We have published an article on the recent situation in Russia before. Now we publish some more information from Russian Maoists, with some minor editorial changes.

In the light of recent events of Prigozhin’s rebellion we publish our analysis of the present political situation. We believe that the events of the past two days are of historical significance and that they have almost no analogy in the history of Russia until today. These events are also extremely revealing because they demonstrate the degree of disorganization and incompetence of the Russian state, the power of which is often over-exaggerated. The mystification of the real military and political power of the Russian state only serves reaction; we must perceive reality objectively and recognize the deep crisis in which this rotten state is stuck. Accordingly, before we proceed directly to the analysis, let us first note, only in rough but not strict chronological order, the most important events of the last two days.

Main events

It all started with the fact that on June 23, the head of the Wagner PMC [later references to “Wagner” or just “PMC” mean the Wagner PMC – translator], Prigozhin, said that the Russian military shelled the PMC positions, due to which, in his words, “a huge number of soldiers were killed”[1]. In one of the fascist telegram channels close to the PMC “Wagner” a video was published with the alleged consequences of the shelling which was allegedly carried out from the “rear”[2]. The authenticity of the video is hard to determine. In his last interview before the mutiny, Prigozhin, among other comments, criticized the Ministry of Defense and the current military leadership in general, but with particular emphasis on Shoygu[3]. Shortly thereafter, the mutiny itself began.

As far as we can tell one of the first acts of the mutiny was the detention of a lieutenant colonel of the Russian army by PMC “Wagner”, as well as of a number of other military personnel. Fighters from the PMC “Wagner” forced the lieutenant colonel to apologize for one of the alleged attacks on the PMC; there were signs of beatings on his face[4]. Soon after that a column of military vehicles of PMC “Wagner” began its movement through the Voronezh region in the direction of Moscow. The Ministry of Defense denied Prigozhin’s statements about the strikes made from the rear of the “Wagner” positions[5]. A number of high-ranking militarymen, including generals, appealed to Prigozhin to stop his “march on Moscow.”[6] In more than 10 regions all mass events were cancelled by the government[7]. The Counter-Terrorist Operation regime was imposed in some regions[8]. FSB opened a criminal case against Prigozhin[9]. Various newspapers, but primarily the Rostov edition, published numerous photos of military equipment and soldiers of the “Wagner” PMC entering Rostov.

In Voronezh shootings and explosions began[10]. At the time of an unsuccessful attempt to shoot down a helicopter of the government troops with a missile launcher “Strela M10”, which belonged to the “Wagner” PMC, an oil refinery in Voronezh was hit[11]. According to RT, the “Wagner” PMC took control of a beer plant[12]. To the north, in Rostov, mines were planted in the city[13]. Thus, two cities – Voronezh and Rostov – came under the de facto control of “Wagner”, which numbers about 25,000 fighters. The military convoy did not stop and continued on to Moscow and the highways M2, M4 and M5 were blocked.

In addition to attempts to strike the “Wagner” PMC from helicopters, and since it seemed impossible to do so in the conditions of the city, an air strike was launched against the “Wagner” convoy on the M4 highway[14]. According to unofficial and unconfirmed reports, there were 110 light-armored vehicles in just the third column of the “Wagner” convoy, which was traveling through the Lipetsk region toward Moscow[15]. Around the country banners advertising the membership in the “Wagner” PMC started to be taken down[16]. In Moscow all public authorities and transport facilities were taken under heavy protection[17]. The military preparations in the capital were held all night from the 23rd to the 24th and all day on the 24th.

Putin in his urgent presidential speech called the activities of the PMC “a stab in the back” and said that those who organized it shall be imminently punished, though without mentioning Prigozhin by his name directly[18]. Prigozhin soon responded by saying that “no one is going to come forward with a letter of confession at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else”[19]. Medvedev, on the other hand, expressed himself as follows: “Splitting and betrayal are the way to the greatest tragedy, to a global catastrophe. We will not allow it. The enemy will be defeated! Victory will be ours!”[20] Medvedev called Prigozhin’s actions a deliberate operation to seize power and also said that “In the history of mankind there has never been such a situation when the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons came under the control of bandits.”[21]

Eventually, quite unexpectedly, news came in that after successful talks between Prigozhin and Putin, which were brokered by Lukashenko[22], the PMC “Wagner” began to withdraw from Rostov. The negotiations, according to Lukashenko, were conducted throughout the whole day[23]. Prigozhin said that the PMC “Wagner” would have been disbanded; he added that it is now going to return to its positions “according to the plan.”[24]

After all this, the soldiers of the “Wagner” PMC, “in view of their merits on the front,”[25] will not be prosecuted. The soldiers will be able to enlist in the Russian army. The criminal case against Prigozhin was closed, and he himself will leave for Belarus[26]. The state press service is silent on what he will do in Belarus. The official, certainly underestimated figure of the damage to the asphalt surface of the roads is estimated at 10 thousand square meters[27]. Unofficial and unconfirmed reports, based on video analysis of the downed helicopters alone, claim that more than 10 pilots were killed during the conflict[28]. There is still no official figure for casualties, military or civilian.

The political essence of both sides

It is very important to understand that neither of the two sides wants to end the war with Ukraine. Both sides of this conflict represent the economic interest of Russia’s monopolistic capitalists, primarily oil and gas capitalists. Prigozhin, while complaining in form about the leadership, is in essence not actually complaining about the aggressive nature of this war, but only about the conditions that were offered to him as part of it. He talks about the botched management of the war, but this is just populism to maintain his own figure in the ranks of the PMC. Both sides are waging a war of aggression to pillage the Ukrainian national economy for the benefit of the Russian oligarchy – the Russian imperialists, which would allow them to improve their strategic economic and military position in the fight against American imperialists for power in the third world, particularly in Ukraine.

The fact that Prigozhin has served the Russian oligarchy all his life is clearly seen in the history of his political formation. “Putin’s chef” was one of the most trusted people and performed the dirtiest of assignments in exchange for personal gain. Creating a private army of such size as the “Wagner” PMC would have been impossible otherwise; Prigozhin, though he is a millionaire (if not a billionaire), definitely did not have and does not have the resources to maintain all combat units on his own, the resources for which are provided to him directly by the monopolists. “Wagner” PMC itself was established based on the image and liking of Prigozhin – it is the lowest and blackest fascist organization, the original purpose of which was to conduct dirty war and genocide in Africa and the Middle East (Central African Republic, Libya, Mali, Sudan, Syria, and others). It was with the help of “Wagner” that Russian imperialists could fight for the capture of oil and gold mining sites without dirtying the face of the Russian army and, therefore, working with much looser hands. Military formation of the “Wagner” PMC is fully consistent with the fascist way of organizing – corporativist and anti-parliamentary (i.e. anti-democratic). The very existence of a private military army is completely rejected in the constitution of the country. Thus, the Wagner is the modern equivalent of the fascist Freikorps formed in the Weimar Republic, but with the significant difference that from the beginning “Wagner” is used against Third World nations and not against communists.

But with the start of the “SMO” the Russian imperialists were faced with a political problem. The lack of volunteers and the huge organizational problems that surfaced even before the first failed wave of forced mobilization in September meant that they had to recruit more people than were available. In order to reach the numbers of recruits they turned to prisons. The army of the Russian Federation could not afford to smear its “denazifying” and “orthodox” image with higher criminals as mercenaries, so another organizational form had to perform this task. But such an organization to perform the most heinous military work was already there – the PMC “Wagner”. This structure already had trusted people, its work was already established, all that was left to do was to redeploy their troops. Nevertheless, even after all this, the problem was still not completely solved, and more people were needed. In order to attract even more criminals, “Wagner” was provided another unique fascist benefit: at the end of the contract with the “Wagner”, the criminals, without trial, were allowed to simply walk free without having served the remainder of their prison terms. Thus, the role and tasks of the “Wagner” PMC since the start of the war with Ukraine have expanded and now include not only dirty military operations in Africa and the Middle East, but also the recruitment of criminals for the needs of the front. It is primarily this purpose that the PMC has served since the beginning of the “SMO”.

Thus, we can see that both Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense serve the same purpose – the rotten old monopolistic order, in which the people have no right to protest, let alone to strike. Prigozhin only pays lip service to “oligarchy” and says that he is leading his actions for the common people, who, according to him, are allegedly putting up posters in support of the “Wagner” PMC in Rostov-on-Don. There are no pictures of these posters, only words. It is clear that the price of his words is empty air. The bourgeois and alarmist line that a “civil war” has started which is being disseminated by a huge number of talentless Russian liberals is not even remotely rooted in a material analysis since this entire political process is not of a mass nature. On the contrary – the nature of these military actions is fascist and anti-people. Prigozhin in no way leads the people’s protest, just as the “Wagner” PMC does not in any way represent a military expression of popular protest. All the people of Rostov only want peace so that a military operation does not break out in their city. In synthesis, Prigozhin is not fundamentally different from any other current bureaucrat in power, and the “Wagner” PMC and the Ministry of Defense are simply different organizational forms of the same unity – two sides of the fascist coin of the Russian state.

Prigozhin’s motivations, his political and military line

The first and most important factor that explains what has happened is the failure of “SMO” itself. It is clear that if the Russian army had had any ability to advance and hold its positions then the current situation would have never arisen.

Looking at the course of the war, we can see that Russia’s primary strategy was a Blitzkrieg, which was defeated already in the first two months of “SMO”. This is even evidenced by Prigozhin’s subjective complaints and grievances in his interview, which are objective only in one thing – that Russia could not afford a protracted war. From late February to early March 2022 Russia opened several front lines of attack: south from Crimea, east from “LNR” and “DNR”, north (including from the territory of Belarus) and northeast, aimed at Kharkov. By mid-March 2022 they managed to more or less connect all attack directions, primarily from the south. But by the end of March the AFU had already launched an active counterattack in all directions, primarily on the northern front aimed at Kiev. The Russian imperialists were forced to surrender their positions in Kiev and completely abandon the direction of the attack from Belarus. By mid-April 2022 and the northeastern direction of the attack was completely suppressed. By mid-April 2022 the front line was more or less stabilized with the two main attack directions having a connection with each other – from the south and from the east. However, as early as May 2022 Russian forces were forced to cede part of the northern sector of the east direction of attack. Another counterattack followed in September, which had by then completely recaptured the entire northern sector. In October the Ukrainian counterattack against the eastern direction of attack continued, and in November the Russian troops were forced to abandon all conquered territory north of Kherson altogether and surrender Kherson itself, in which they had already begun their trademark electoral farce in their vain hopes of continuing their occupation. Since then, the front line has remained stable.

It is important to understand that the viscosity of the front in no way plays into the hands of the Russian imperialists. We also think it is important to understand how insignificant the gains of the Russian army are and how significant their territorial losses are strategically. Russian propagandists boasted that they had taken Bakhmut. Prigozhin himself paraded the work of his PMC for all to see. But what is worthy of praise if this small town (about 70 thousand people before the war and about 4 thousand during the war) was surrounded on three sides for longer than 6 months, but held out all that time and fell only a month ago? At the strategic military level, one loss of Kherson is definitely worth ten captures of Bakhmut. Now that so many troops had to be brought in to resolve this conflict, it is no wonder that Ukraine could launch its next counteroffensive at any moment.

Thus, the failed general political line that cannot force the people to stand up against their interests – which is why it is losing the war – has served as the basis for the current situation. On the other hand, it is also abundantly clear that it was Prigozhin’s desperate position and his thawing bureaucratic ambitions under pressure from the Defense Ministry that led him to this mutiny. However, looking at the conflict between the Ministry of Defense and PMC, we can see that this conflict was not born yesterday. Months ago, Prigozhin complained about the fact that they do not have enough ammunition, for which he tried to blackmail the Ministry of Defense and threatened to leave their positions in Bakhmut if they do not get an urgent supply of ammunition. He dreamed of handing over Bakhmut positions to the government army. Clearly, it was Prigozhin’s own closed conflict of interest with the Ministry of Defense that played the biggest role. In the end, on the basis of this internal conflict of personal interests, the Ministry of Defense, which is essentially just a handful of bureaucrats hitting their heads against Prigozhin, put forward a contract on the table for the PMC, which would have disbanded the PMC, forcing all the soldiers of “Wagner” to join the government forces. It was in response to these events that Prigozhin began his mutiny; he understood that neither his life, nor his personal interest can be guaranteed if the “Wagner” PMC is disbanded or re-formed.

Thus, the conflict between Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense is just a conflict between the two factions of big imperialist bourgeoisie, fighting for the same resources by the same methods, which is why the difference between the political and military lines of the Ministry of Defense and Prigozhin is rather marginal. The whole difference between the two essentially boils down to the fact that Prigozhin calls for conducting “SMO” better. In his interview, he calls for conducting “SMO” more fiercely and brutally, not sparing the Ukrainian people, not being afraid to use nuclear weapons, “going all the way”. In essence, he calls for the genocide of the Ukrainian people. Naturally, he is provoked to this by his dissatisfaction with his share. However, both Prigozhin’s military and political lines are extremely vague, unprincipled and directly dependent on the circumstances in which he finds himself, which fully reflects the ideological training of fascism – eclecticism. At the beginning of “SMO” he openly called for mobilization in certain regions. During “SMO” and after the start of the mutiny, he speaks out “for the people,” “against the oligarchy,” and against Shoigu, saying that the war was started for completely wrong reasons. But the important thing is this: he has never once spoken out against Putin and has even defended him, saying that the Ministry of Defense simply creates a false “agenda” on the basis of which the supposedly honest president makes the wrong decisions. In reality, Putin is very well informed, he is a key figure in the government, and he is most directly responsible for the decision to seize Crimea in 2014, and for starting the war in 2022. Now that Prigozhin’s security and personal interest are guaranteed (on paper) by the word of the president himself, he gives up his position and commands his troops to retreat “according to plan”. This opportunism and spinelessness has provoked a wave of widespread disappointment with Prigozhin’s figure, especially in the ranks of the most fascist elements of PMC “Wagner”, who held their breath in hope of a full-fledged coup d’etat.

Struggle and collusion

As a result, the situation was extremely dynamic and, as we have already established, is a conflict between the two most reactionary, black factions of the bourgeoisie, which develops according to the laws of collusion and struggle with each other. It is important to understand that the struggle between the two sides is absolute and primary, while the collusion is temporary and secondary. This classic thesis is supported by the fact that both sides have taken political positions that would allow them to make lightning-fast decisions and change course depending on the specific outcome of the situation. Putin, speaking about the mutiny, never mentioned Prigozhin by name, but simply threatened to punish “those” people who are responsible for organizing the mutiny. The same tactics were used by Prigozhin with regard to Putin. This alone pointed to a possible resolution of the struggle through collusion. Nevertheless, the military actions of Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense definitely indicate their determination to use violence; when else has a government army air strike been conducted within the borders of the country against a moving army column of a hostile faction in the middle of the day when there are civilian cars on the highway? In addition to this, some liberals (Michael Nacke), claim that the Ministry of Defense was actively considering a special operation to capture Prigozhin involving 1,500 military personnel[29]. We are faced with a contradiction: on one side the struggle is employed, on the other side – collusion. Now, even when the deal has been made on paper, the fate of Prigozhin remains unclear, as it is not at all clear what bureaucratic role he was assigned in Belarus, especially considering how much he has deepened the problems of the current state. “The president’s word,” which appeared in the state media as a guarantee of Prigozhin’s safety, will not be of much worth, especially if Prigozhin is politically isolated (primarily from his trusted people in the PMC).

However, Prigozhin’s unclear fate is not that important to the Russian movement, nor to the Russian masses. Despite this, we are fully certain of one thing: now, after this disgraceful farce of enormous proportions, the Russian government will lie in the most perverse ways that in fact everything was under control, that the disorganization of their power posed no danger to the lives of citizens and soldiers, that from the beginning the peaceful outcome was foreseen. But we must by no means forget exactly how the scandal of the events of June 23 and 24 took place. The whole world must know about it, because it demonstrates in the clearest way that reactionaries are paper tigers. A material analysis of the events of June 23rd and 24th shows that everything that could have gotten out of hand has gotten out of hand. All the leading fascists, their trusted bureaucrats and ideologues were in a panic; they are still changing their shoes mid-air [Russian phrase that indicates quick and unprincipled change of positions/opinions – translator] in a vain attempt to hush up their mistakes. But the Russian imperialists will never be able to turn back the clock and take back Putin’s words that a real mutiny is developing in the country, that it poses a mortal threat to the Russian nation and statehood, and that the situation in Russian cities is extremely difficult because of their own mistakes.

The Army and the State

Thus, this situation is a symptom of the incredibly sharp internal contradictions of the rotten Russian society, which is in permanent crisis. On the economic level, the last two days are a huge and highly inefficient waste of resources for the Russian imperialists, which otherwise could have been used on the front lines. On the political level, it is a precedent for the coming intensifying struggle within the ranks of the imperialists themselves, which will reluctantly inflict strong destabilizing blows on their own state with each passing day. On the ideological level, it is a demonstration of absence of principles, eclecticism, hatred and disrespect for the people.

The classical Marxist thesis that the state is an organizational formation that exists to maintain industrial relations through violence should be fully understood and applied to these events. Analyzing Russian society, we conclude that the Russian state stands on the basis of an extremely precarious and lopsided economy, which definitively stopped developing in 2014. This economic crisis is expressed at the political level by the poor organization of the state. In essence, this means that they cannot effectively and clearly organize their violence through their armed forces. If they could effectively use violence and the army, then why wasn’t an undeveloped country like Ukraine taken over by a nuclear superpower in the first months of the war? If their army (both its branches – governmental and private), which supports their state, is so well organized, why is it at war with itself? All this points to three things.

First, that the objective factors for the development of revolutionary work are as ready as ever. Second, that Russian imperialism, like other imperialists throughout the world, is no longer able to organize its army effectively to fully support its own state and to successfully wage wars of conquest against the Third World. Third, that the limiting factor in the process of revolutionary development is the subjective one, that we must be even more confident and stronger in our work.

The “mutiny” scandal of 1917 between the provisional government of Kerensky and General Kornilov completely discredited the provisional government. It was this scandal that historically became the “straw that broke the camel’s back” that allowed the Bolsheviks to organize an uprising and then defend their State during several difficult years of war. Is not this shameful farce comparable in its destabilizing effect to the shameful farce of Kornilov’s “mutiny”? Is it not clear that the Russian monopolists and their puppet ideologues are no longer capable of solving their own problems, which they themselves create? Shouldn’t this situation give the Russian revolutionaries even more impetus and confidence to develop their mass work? Yes, yes, and yes.

We conclude this article with a magnificent quote from Chairman Gonzalo, which should be in every revolutionary’s arsenal:

“Those who have ears, use them. Those who have understanding — and we all have it — use it! Enough of this nonsense. Enough of these obscurities! Let us understand that! What is unfolding in the world? What do we need? We need Maoism to be embodied, and it is being embodied, and by generating Communist Parties to drive and direct this new great wave of the proletarian world revolution that is coming.” – Chairman Gonzalo, speech in military incarceration on September 24, 1992.


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