The ongoing struggle between Russia and the NATO proxy, Ukraine, took a bizarre turn last weeks ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long associate and confident, Yevgeny Prigozhin, seemed to turn on his boss and threatened Russian security and sovereignty by mounting a one-day “armed” insurrection.
The shock troops Putin has been using for the hardest fighting in Ukraine have been mercenaries hired and employed by The Wagner Group – a Russian “private” army headed by Prigozhin with approximately fifty thousand troops deployed on four continents. Prigozhin has a history of stunts, outlandish statements and unpredictable behavior but last week took the cake.
The Wagner Group announced that it demanded the resignation of the Russian Minister of Defense, Sergei Kuzhugetovich Shoigu, another long-time Putin associate. Prigozhin marched on Rostov-on-Don to capture the Southern Russian Military Command complex and then sent an armed convoy to Moscow to “attack” the capital. Only a small portion of The Wagner Group forces were involved in the operation and the convoy of trucks headed for Moscow was numbered at about sixty – hardly a proper invasion force of a city of over twelve million. The trucks stopped several hours short of Moscow and eventually returned to Rostov. The deployed Russian attack helicopters sent to counter the force never engaged and the entire exercise on both sides shortly thereafter stood down.
The West breathlessly reported that Putin fled Moscow, that the government was falling, that the military was revolting and that Putin had had Prigozhin charged for treason and that his arrest was ordered. Only the treason charge and arrest being ordered had any truth to it.
Several hours later, the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, had miraculously brokered a deal whereby Prigozhin would live in exile in Belarus, The Wagner Group forces in Ukraine would be integrated into the Russian military, there would be a general amnesty for all participants and that all was well. Surely, peace-building skills like these will require a Nobel Peace Prize for Lukashenko!
So what was it? A genuine battle of two oligarchs who came to their senses just in time? An adolescent outburst by the Wagner Group Chief against a military hierarchy that he viewed as incompetent? A performance of Kabuki theater for the confusion of the West and NATO? Throwing sand in the eyes of the Ukrainians tempting them to engage in further failed assaults against the Russian defenses in Ukraine?
However, former Major General Paul Vallely thinks otherwise. I spoke with General Vallely this week and he explained that it was an intelligence trap for Western intelligence sources – fifth columnists in Russia in the pay of MI6 and the CIA.
Paul Vallely is a bona fide Russia expert – a first-hand expert. He engineered the first Trump-Putin Summit, on July 16, 2018, by working with the Russians first, then the Americans. He has been actively involved in Russian/American relations since the start of the War on Terror. General Vallely is intimate with the Russian hierarchy and, in that capacity, is currently working on a peace summit later this year for the Russians and Ukrainians to meet without outside influence or pressures.
Vallely explains that Prigozhin has long bragged that he has independent access to Western intelligence. Access that the West has never disputed. General Vallely postures that Prigozhin used his influence with Western intelligence assets and forewarned that he would be acting soon.
A coup against Putin by the “tip of the Russian spear” would be too juicy and tempting for the CIA to dismiss or even question, a’la the Trump pee-story. The crazier and politically acceptable the lie is, the more likely the hapless CIA will embrace it as fact. With breathless speed and excitement, Western intelligence christened the warning by Prigozhin as “truth” the moment it was secretly broached to them. To demonstrate the proof of this, Vallely observes that Biden and key members of Congress were briefed by US intelligence structures on the “coup” the Wednesday before the action that Friday.
Positing that there is no way that the CIA could possibly know something about the Wagner Group that the Russian intel agency, the FSB doesn’t, Vallely makes the point that there was no chance that the actions by Prigozhin could possibly be a surprise to Putin as the script for the “coup” recites. It is idiotic to think that ultimately Lindsey Graham could possibly know more about a “coup” by Russian military assets days before Vladimir Putin knew of it. Vallely might just have something there. As a general rule, my old colleague Lindsay doesn’t know more than anyone else, about anything, ever.
The small blackeye that Putin will take in the public discussion of the “coup” is well worth the excising of Western assets from the Russian fabric. It is General Vallely’s suspicion that, as art imitates life, the now exposed Western intel assets in Russia sought by Putin and the FSB will be quietly dispatched in the next few weeks and months – just like the ending of any decent spy novel. There will be no public executions or show trials. There will be a quiet tightening of the Russian state intelligence and the noticeable absence of a few who will be on permanent vacation.
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Russia – Ukraine – Nato- Prigozhin