I RECENTLY wrote a short article for TCW about how our supposed experts have repeatedly misjudged what is happening in Russia. All our mainstream media have claimed that the Wagner mutiny has weakened President Putin. Typical headlines were ‘Ukraine can now end Putin’s crumbling regime‘ and ‘How Wagner’s mutiny left Putin catastrophically weakened‘. I argued that the rapid demolishing of the Wagner revolt and the exile of Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had actually strengthened the Russian president’s position.
The recent claims about a supposedly weakened Putin are just the latest examples of Western media’s dubious reporting of what is happening in Russia. After all, ever since the start of Putin’s misjudged invasion of Ukraine, we’ve been assured that he was suffering from a long list of possibly fatal medical conditions. These included cancer: ‘Putin suffers breakdown after changing cancer medicine’; dementia: ‘Vladimir Putin has dementia and is being driven insane by paranoia’, and Parkinson’s: ‘Vladimir Putin does have Parkinson’s and pancreatic cancer’. It does seem that for a while Putin did suffer from some kind of nervous condition as his invasion turned into a disaster. But he has looked fairly sprightly of late, especially since the Wagner mutiny collapsed, so it may be that reports of his imminent demise from a variety of illnesses are premature.
I believe that the latest misreporting by our media concerns Putin’s statement that the Russian state paid the Wagner Group over $1billion in just the last year. This was called an ‘admission’ in most Western media as if it was a sign of weakness. One typical Western media report claimed that Putin said this ‘in an apparent attempt to take full credit for earlier battlefield successes of the mercenaries’. Yet again I believe our ‘experts’ have completely misjudged what Vladimir Putin is really doing. When Putin revealed how much Russia paid the Wagner Group, he added that he hoped ‘no one stole anything – or, let’s say, didn’t steal much. But we will certainly get to the bottom of this’. These additional remarks appear not to have been widely reported in any of the British mainstream media. But it seems clear to me that Putin is about to launch an investigation into how the Wagner Group used the money they were paid and I’ve no doubt that eye-watering levels of corruption will be revealed, giving Putin the excuse to persecute Wagner bosses. So, while Western media interpreted the announcement of massive payments to the Wagner Group as another sign of Putin’s weakness, I think they’ve (possibly deliberately) got it wrong again. What Putin was really saying is that he’s going to get revenge on Wagner for what he perceives as their treachery and he’s going to use a financial investigation to bring down what remains of the Wagner Group.
I may be wrong and all the experts claiming that Putin is a gravely ill despot fatally damaged by the Wagner incident may be right. However I suspect that our ‘experts’ have all along been guilty of at best ‘wishful thinking’, but more probably have deliberately worked to mislead us about what is really happening in Russia.