For all I am a bit pre-occupied by the upcoming surgery, I am trying to keep up with things. I am watching Nigeria as the attack on our diplomatic convoy says interesting things.
I’m also trying to keep up with the happenings in Russia. There is a good bit going on, from smoke (the alleged upgrades to mobile missiles) to something that may be a bit more solid. I think we could see a major upheaval within the higher levels of the Kremlin in the next few months.
The source of that is, of course, Prigozhin. His feud with the MoD is in many respects as much political as operational. So much so he ended up on the outs with Vladimir and while there are some reports that there was some level of reconciliation, the response to Prigozhin’s threat to withdraw his troops from Bakhmut rather clearly indicated not so much. Nevermind that directly or by proxy he seems to be taking steps to possibly make a run at the top spot.
He very much continues to push the limits of what criticism can be made against Vladimir, and seems determined to not just push that line but eradicate it. His comments and rants are beyond current cultural norms for such, and he seems to want to go even further. That is a rather risky thing to do in Russia, particularly right now, unless he is willing to make a true play for the top.
The Washington Post “expose” of his alleged dealings with Ukrainian intelligence is not helping his position in Russia. For all the pro-forma being said by the government in public, in private far more interesting conversations seem to be happening. I do have questions about the leak, as I don’t trust anything from the Post, especially something like this.
Do I expect anything to happen in the next couple of weeks? No. Not unless someone gets a major case of the stupids. Do I think things could come to a head in regards Prigozhin in the next three months? Oh, yes. Particularly if he continues his efforts to criticize Vladimir while continuing to make behind-the-scenes preparations. I’ve talked before about the cultural norms, and by moving beyond them Prigozhin is not just alienating a lot of potential support, but ensuring opposition to any political moves in a number of quarters.
For those interested in the WP “leak” and a different (but similar) take on things, check out this from the ISW.