Is it all just a bluff? Military experts bring daring Wagner theory into play

For example, Lieutenant General a. D. Roland Kather in an interview with “Welt”: “I think the whole thing was staged. If things go really badly, it’s a covert march,” said the ex-military man.

That means: “Prigozhin goes to Belarus, his Wagner fighters follow him, and at some point they will attack the west and Ukraine with Kiev from the north.”

So it’s all just a big bluff to keep Ukraine safe? Demonstrate weakness in front of the whole world and then hit all the harder and more mercilessly? British ex-general Richard Dannatt also sees this as a thoroughly realistic scenario and warns of a Wagner attack from Belarus.

Prigozhin’s march on Moscow: “Somehow this whole story seems staged, unreal”

The fact that Prigozhin is now moving to Belarus after the end of the uprising against the Kremlin is cause for concern, the former chief of staff emphasized on Sunday on the Sky News channel. If he gathers an “effective force” around him there, this would again be a threat.

The events of Saturday also seem “somehow staged, unreal” to the Russia expert Stefan Meister from the German Society for Foreign Relations (DGAP). He says in an interview with FOCUS online: “There are a few indications that surprise me a lot.”

  • First: “Hardly anyone reacted to the attacks by the Wagner mercenaries yesterday. Prigozhin is marching towards Moscow and nobody stands in his way, the army has done practically nothing.”
  • Secondly: “Putin gave a speech where you got the feeling he doesn’t know what’s going on. He seemed unrealistic and talked about history and the west again. At the same time, the war just goes on.”
  • Third: “Then Lukashenko suddenly comes into play as a supposed mediator. A dictator who is completely dependent on the Kremlin and actually has no say at all. That seems staged – as if a puppet were needed here to convey the message.”
  • Fourth: “Shortly thereafter, the solution is already there. Prigozhin gets a free pass, even though he has questioned Putin’s monopoly on power. He goes unpunished and everything is back to how it was before. Really? I think it’s actually a lot more complicated.”

Did Prigozhin need the staging to communicate with Putin?

However, Stefan Meister does not want to talk about a joint staging of Putin and Prigozhin. “My impression is that Prigozhin no longer had direct contact with Putin.” The Russia expert rather believes that Prigozhin needed the staging of the rebellion “in order to communicate with Putin”.

Master: “Putin dropped Prigozhin and had already dried up his troops for weeks and cut off the supply of ammunition. In the end he was also outlawed as a person. The action served to get Putin’s attention in order to negotiate security for himself as a person. He has now achieved that.”

According to Meister, one now has to observe how many Wagner mercenaries would really follow their leader to Belarus. But even if it should be a few thousand, the expert does not fear major consequences for Ukraine. “Wagner is now so weakened that many military officials say that the group will hardly play a major role in the war.”

The US think tank “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) also sees no signs of a set-up game between Putin and Prigozhin and considers theories in this regard to be absurd. Rather, the ISW experts assume that the uprising will “probably do considerable harm” to Putin’s government and to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.

Jean Harris

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