Round 1 is over, folks.
The last 24 hours did, in fact, end with a Wagner win. Only, so few understand what actually happened which is why there is a tangible atmosphere of disappointment hanging in the air. Let’s clear that up now. My goal here is to be as objective as possible and not to defend Wagner or Shoigu, but just to present the facts.
Let me ask you all something: what were Wagner’s objectives going into this 24 hour SMO?
Wait, wait, wait.
Actually, let us take a step back and remind ourselves what actually led to the events that transpired: first, Prigozhin may or may not have survived an assassination attempt (probable), a MoD air attack (unlikely), Wagner was declared traitors by the FSB and Putin (fact) and had the entire political elite of Russia rally against them (for shame). And now where are they? Well, they have just amicably negotiated terms with the Kremlin through the mediation of President Lukashenko.
Do you see the progress that has been made here?
Let me make my point now: Wagner is clearly in a better position now than they were going into the 24 hour SMO.
Let me also state the obvious: Prigozhin’s stated goal of deposing Shoigu and his cabal at the MoD has NOT been accomplished. And I would be very surprised if the Kremlin ever agreed to do away with Shoigu and his friends under any circumstances. Gerasimov might be let loose to pasture, but, even with him, I’m not holding my breath. Shoigu is extremely corrupt, which means that he is deeply enmeshed in the web of blackmail and kompromat that keeps the Kremlin elite afloat. Shoigu has so much dirt on top people, so much blood on his hands, and so many debts to others (and others in his debt) that, clearly, to surgically extract him from that spider web of intrigue and conspiracy would cause the whole net to unravel.
It well and truly is a “till death do us part” scenario between Shoigu, Putin and the other “grey cardinals” behind the Kremlin curtain. Someone play the Titanic song. I can feel myself starting to tear up.