‘Known Knowns: Things We Know We Know’ — Except In The Russian Close-Call Coup

June 28, 2023

Beyond the domestic tales of treachery with the MAGA/T-Rump Republicans, the Russian near-coup/treachery (or whatever) this past weekend continues to fester itself without any general relief — as been stated long before, what’s known is more unknown right now.

Now nearly a week after news of the so-called coup/mutiny/insurrection was mounted by Russian private mercenary Wager Group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, this is the big item today (NYT): ‘There was intense focus in Moscow about the fate of Gen. Sergei Surovikin, a senior military official whom Mr. Prigozhin praised publicly and who is said to have known about the rebellion in advance; he has not been seen publicly since early Saturday. Several pro-war Russian blogs reported that the authorities were investigating military service members with ties to Mr. Prigozhin, but those reports could not be independently confirmed.

There are reports Surovikin has been arrested, but like a shitload of available information of the whole Russian fairytale, it’s really sketchy, with unreliable sources. I follow a few military-affairs specialists on Twitter since the outbreak of the Ukrainian war and they are usually authentic in at least stating there’s insufficient information to make a judgment call on some related matter. The whole affair is Russian drama at its shittiest, without any good side.

Surovikin, and, too, Prigozhin as well, should steer clear of windows in upper-floor buildings. What the scoop is the question:

Bernie’s‘ is about faking a deceased guy being alive. And on that question on the Wagner chief not being dead —  Aaron Schwartzbaum, a fellow in the Eurasia Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, reports in an interview published this morning at New York Magazine there are still a lot of missing, complicated pieces of an unsolved puzzle for the entire misadventure:

A critical question and mystery here is how Prigozhin — even before this — has remained alive. He has been incredibly outspoken about his views on the conduct of the war. He was basically the one actor in Putin’s orbit who was allowed to speak candidly.

But Prigozhin had been useful to Putin until recently. My favorite relevant etymological fact I like to share is that Prigozhin — the name is a verb in Russian: prigoditsya, which means to come in handy, to be useful. That’s where his name comes from. And he was very useful. There’s a reason that his forces and convicts were used in Bakhmut: because it’s a gory, grisly, bloody, bloody urban grind. And it’s much easier to use convicts to take that kind of turf than traditional, professional soldiers.

To the question of why there was no bloodshed — I would make it clear that there was some. Thirteen Russian aircrew died getting shot down, which is frankly unbelievable. But why wasn’t there more? I don’t think it wasn’t in Putin’s interest. I don’t think he wanted to risk it. As a general matter, Putin tries to do as little as possible — sometimes while looking like he’s doing a lot. He avoids decisive steps and likes to keep his options open. And killing tens or hundreds of people can lead to unpredictable places — especially, as you mentioned, with the support among Telegram nationalists that Prigozhin enjoys. Putin has tried to keep that section of the population placated. Had Prigozhin’s actual aim been to kneecap Putin, there would have been more logic to it.

And so forth and so. Apparently, this is an example of one of those ‘only-time-will-tell’ kind of things where right now we know shit. Except for the Russian drama of history, drunks, and cruelty. And lying.

However, don’t lie about being down — a part that white cane in the lane:

War and peace, or just finding someone who’s turning, here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Les Deux Saltimbanques: l’Arlequin et Sa Compagne,’ found here.)

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