What are we to Make of Prigozhin and the Wagner Group?

I am fascinated by the misinformation and deception being spread via social media channels about famed-Russian Chef, Evgeny Prigozhin, and his mythical military prowess. The latest example of this comes courtesy of Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post:

Wagner chief offered to give Russian troop locations to Ukraine, leak says

THE DISCORD LEAKS | Yevgeniy Prigozhin said he would tell Ukraine’s military where to attack Russian troops if they pulled their own forces back from the beleaguered city of Bakhmut, where Wagner mercenaries were taking heavy losses

If there was ever any doubt that the so-called “Discord Leaks”, allegedly the handiwork of a lowly U.S. Air Force grunt, are a controlled leak that is part of an information operation, this latest wowzer should erase any skepticism.

Follow the logic here. There supposedly is a piece of Top Secret signals intelligence “proving” that Prigozhin offered to betray Russia in order to protect his own troops two months ago (remember, the “leaked” material “discovered” on 6 April by an outfit tied to British intelligence, reported on classified information disseminated around the first of March). How does Prigozhin, who has zero military experience and is not part of the Russian chain of command, have access to the order of battle of Russian forces? Not likely.

Wagner Group is not a creation of Evgeny Prigozhin. Forget about the popular Western meme that Wagner is a Russian version of the Dirty Dozen — convicts and criminals given a chance to redeem themselves by putting on a Russian uniform and risking their lives. That is an image that Russian intelligence has pushed and the gullible folks in the West have gobbled it up.

I give credence to Alexander Mercouris’ reporting on the history of Wagner — i.e., it was formed under the direction of Russia’s military intelligence outfit, the GRU, and the Russian version of the FBI, i.e., the FSB. In other words, Wagner is more akin to the CIA’s Special Activities Division (i.e., SAD), which is the military arm of the CIA, and the French Foreign Legion. Wagner, in my opinion, is not under the operational control of Prigozhin. Not only is he a master of the culinary arts but he is a damn, fine actor. Prigozhin presents the world with the image of a man teetering on the edge of madness and megolamania and the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and other NATO countries lap it up.

Wagner is a light infantry outfit and specializes in providing training to foreign soldiers and combatants. Just like the CIA’s SAD, Wagner is led by former active duty Russian military officers and non-commissioned officers. My friend, Andrei Martyanov, correctly notes that while Wagner specializes in urban combat, it is not organized nor equipped to operated as a combined arms unit. However, besides its capabilities in urban warfare, Wagner also serves a purpose in Russia’s information war against the West.

It also is important to understand that Prigozhin also takes the credit for creating the Internet Research Agency aka IRA, which the media describes as, “a notorious troll farm that the US government has sanctioned for interfering in American elections.”

Prigozhin is only too happy to take credit for the IRA. He provided the following press release in February:

“I react with pleasure,” Prigozhin said in the statement. “I’ve never just been the financier of the Internet Research Agency. I invented it, I created it, I managed it for a long time. It was founded to protect the Russian information space from boorish aggressive propaganda of anti-Russian narrative from the West.”

What next? Did Prigozhin secretly create and fund ROSATOM or the Russian Space Agency? Kinda tough to whip up a tasty omelet when you are busy setting up a military mercenary outfit and an internet intelligence information op. Prigozhin is the new Beria without all of the deviant sexual behavior, or so we are led to believe. Or maybe he is Russia’s version of General Patton.

Most Americans have bought into the myth of General Patton as the General the Nazis and Wehrmacht feared most:

From the movie Patton and from the biography on which it is partly based, Ladislas Farago’s Patton: Ordeal and Triumph, one is left with the impression that the German High Command spent most of its waking hours fretting about Patton and his whereabouts. According to Farago, after his campaign in Sicily, Patton was the Allied general the Germans regarded as “their most dangerous adversary in the field,” which led them to watch his comings and goings “like rubbernecked spectators following a tennis ball at Wimbledon.” The problem is, notes Yeide, that “there does not appear to be an iota of fact behind this claim.”

The same cannot be said of Prigozhin. He is an object of obsession in the Western media and among many of the political leaders. Prigozhin’s recent highly publicized outbursts, including expletive laden diatribes hurled at Russian military leaders, have raised hopes in NATO military and intelligence circles that maybe, just maybe, Putin’s inner circle is starting to crumble and that Russia really is nothing more than a gas-station with nukes.

I do not believe in coincidence. The fact that Prigozhin is linked so publicly with a military organization and an internet information operation that are all under the control of Russia intelligence, leads me to believe that he is an important actor in the Russian campaign to deceive and confuse the West about its true military plans and objectives. Last week, Prigozhin did his best to convince the NATO countries that Wagner was on the ropes and faced with a real risk of being overrun by newly energized and supplied Ukrainian troops. That was then.


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