Rebelión militar

Members of the Wagner Group stand on the balcony of the circus building in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday. (Roman Romokhov/AFP/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, a plane believed to be carrying Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary Wagner Group, crashed in Russia. According to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency, all 10 people on board were killed.

Prigozhin made global headlines in June, when he took over a regional capital in Russia and sent a column of soldiers to Moscow. He called off the apparent coup in the making on the same day, sending his forces back to their barracks. He had seemingly struck a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin — but, as many commentators pointed out, that did not mean he was safe from reprisal by Russia or efforts to bring him to justice internationally.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wagner y su jefe

Difícilmente el gran compositor alemán Richard Wagner podía haber imaginado que un día los militares del Tercer Reich, para acabar con su líder, Adolf Hitler, prepararían una operación-atentado contra el Führer, codificándola de “Valquiria”, el título de una de las óperas más famosas de Wagner, a sabiendas que Hitler era un gran admirador de la música operística wagneriana.

Y menos todavía se le podía haber pasado por la imaginación del genial compositor germano, que casi 80 años más tarde después del frustrado atentado contra Hitler, en otro país, Rusia, habría producido una rebelión de una unidad de militares rusos, cuyo nombre de pila sería el del propio músico alemán – “Wagner”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vladimir Putin, left, and Yevgeny Prigozhin. Photograph: Gavriil Grigorov/SPUTNIK/AFP/Getty Images

In late June, thousands of Wagner group paramilitary forces launched a mutiny in Russia. It seemed to constitute a significant challenge to Putin – the first from within his own country since the invasion – and yet it was over within 48 hours. What can its aftermath tell us about Putin’s position? And does the group still pose a threat?

The mutiny began after the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, ordered the mercenary soldiers to sign new contracts directly with his ministry. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the mutiny’s leader and Wagner’s longtime contractor and fixer, called for the ousting of both Shoigu and the chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Grita ¡devastación! y suelta a los perros de la guerra»

Cuando en febrero de 2022 Rusia invadió Ucrania rememoré esa cita de Shakespeare. Una íntima pedantería me impidió advertir entonces que el lugar donde había leído por primera vez la teatral frase no fue el Julio César, de donde procede, sino el inicio de 'Los perros de la guerra', una novela de intriga de los años setenta escrita por Frederick Forsyth. Los sucesos ocurridos en Rusia entre el 23 y el 24 de junio de este 2023 me volvieron a recordar aquel 'best-seller'. Según confesión propia, Forsyth sacó su argumento de sus vivencias en varias pequeñas repúblicas africanas durante la etapa poscolonial: repúblicas «tan caóticas y mal defendidas», apuntó una vez el novelista británico, que «podrían ser derrocadas y conquistadas por un grupo reducido de soldados profesionales con el armamento adecuado».…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, June 2023. Mikhail Tereshchenko / Sputnik / Pool / Reuters

Among the many lingering questions about the Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is why Russia’s vast security apparatus was so poorly prepared for it. The FSB, the Kremlin’s main internal security service, has long placed a heavy emphasis on “prevention” and taking aggressive steps to preempt any threats to the state before they occur. The security agency even had informants within the Wagner organization. Yet it seems to have taken no action to stop the mutiny before it started or to warn the Kremlin about Prigozhin’s plans.

Then, as Wagner forces made their move, both the FSB and Russia’s National Guard, the main body assigned to maintain internal security and suppress unrest in Russia, failed as rapid response forces.…  Seguir leyendo »

Integrantes del grupo Wagner en un vehículo militar en Rostov del Don, Rusia, el 24 de junio. Roman Romokhov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Durante años, el enorme ejército privado de Yevgeny Prigozhin se encargó de implementar con discreción la política exterior rusa. La red de la fuerza Wagner, formada por miles de mercenarios rusos instalados en América Latina, Medio Oriente y África, ayudó al Kremlin a obtener recursos naturales y proyectar influencia en Estados fallidos y zonas de conflicto, además de permitirle al presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, distanciarse convenientemente de las desagradables alianzas y tácticas despiadadas del grupo.

En Siria y Libia, los guerrilleros de Wagner apoyan a autócratas como Bashar al Asad y Jalifa Haftar a cambio de los beneficios que obtienen de las instalaciones de petróleo y gas que los mercenarios ayudan a proteger.…  Seguir leyendo »

As the rebels of the Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, closed in on Moscow on June 24th, China watched closely—and said nothing. The aborted mutiny was over in 24 hours, but that was enough to expose the fragility of Vladimir Putin’s power system. Despite having limited means to directly influence the outcome of battles inside its giant neighbour, China will go to great lengths, including efforts to keep the Russian economy afloat, to prevent a revolution from taking hold there. It is firmly in China’s interests to keep Mr Putin in the Kremlin—or at least a leader who is just as anti-American and friendly to China.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of Wagner sitting on a military vehicle in Rostov-on-Don, on June 24. Roman Romokhov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For years, Yevgeny Prigozhin’s sprawling private army has quietly acted as a proxy for Russian foreign policy. The Wagner force’s network of thousands of Russian mercenaries installed in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa have helped the Kremlin secure natural resources and project influence in failed states and conflict zones, while allowing President Vladimir Putin of Russia to conveniently distance himself from the group’s unsavory alliances and ruthless tactics.

In Syria and Libya, Wagner fighters prop up strongmen like Bashar al-Assad and Khalifa Haftar in exchange for profits accrued from the oil and gas installations the mercenaries help protect. In Madagascar and Sudan, Wagner has advised governments on stamping out protests, started disinformation campaigns and meddled in elections.…  Seguir leyendo »

Le logo de Wagner effacé des bureaux du groupe à Saint-Pétersbourg, le 23 juin 2023. — © ANATOLY MALTSEV / keystone-sda.ch

Comme Washington en 2021, la Russie vient de vivre son assaut du Capitole. Qui aurait pu imaginer, il y a cinq ans encore, qu’au cœur des deux superpuissances dominantes de la seconde moitié du XXe siècle le pouvoir puisse être agressé de façon aussi brutale et primitive?

Il ne fait aucun doute que le régime russe a pris la menace très au sérieux. Preuve en est le parallèle immédiatement dressé par Vladimir Poutine avec les périodes les plus noires de l’histoire russe: la smouta, un terme désignant le tragique Interrègne du début du XVIIe siècle durant lequel les armées étrangères se sont emparées de Moscou, les mutineries de 1917 préludes à la Révolution, ou la guerre civile qui a suivi et provoqué des millions de morts.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prigozhin es un síntoma

A veces se trata de hacer creer que los golpes militares representan la vanguardia de la modernización y el cambio. Otras, como en el de Chile en 1973 y el fracasado intento de 1981 en España, cuentan con el impulso de la nostalgia por dictaduras pasadas. La mayoría responden, al menos en parte, a los reclamos de grupos poderosos.

El cuasigolpe abortado por el caudillo ruso Yevgeny Prigozhin, por el contrario, parece haberse debido solo a su deseo personal de prestigio y poder. Y aunque abandonó rápidamente el avance hacia Moscú junto con los mercenarios del grupo Wagner, que dirige, expuso el deterioro institucional del régimen pretorianista del presidente ruso Vladímir Putin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wagner group fighters walk near the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. Stringer/Reuters

On Friday and Saturday, the world witnessed something it hadn’t since 1991: military vehicles on the streets of Moscow, deployed to defend the Kremlin from what looked like a coup attempt.

In an act of rebellion, Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner private military company—a mercenary army that has been fighting on Russia’s behalf in Ukraine—seized a city and military headquarters in southern Russia and began an armed advanced toward the capital, before canceling their plans and turning around.

To understand that, CNN Opinion interviewed Jade McGlynn, a research fellow in the War Studies Department at King’s College London, whose new book Russia’s War delves deeply into Russian opinion and how it is formed against a backdrop of state repression and propaganda.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a famous image from August 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin rallies demonstrators against the coup plot against Mikhail Gorbachev. AFP/Getty Images

The events that unfolded in Russia over the weekend transfixed and baffled the world. There’s still much we don’t know, after the Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin sent his Wagner Group forces on the road to Moscow in what looked like the start of an attempted coup or even a civil war. The short-lived rebellion prompted a furious reaction from his patron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the usually cool modern-day czar.

There’s a reason the most common official statements across the globe were along the lines of “We are monitoring events”. And yet, beneath the thick fog of rebellion, a few things were starkly visible.…  Seguir leyendo »

Putin Thinks He’s Still in Control. He’s Not

The Scarlet Sails festival is one of Russia’s most popular holidays. A celebration of high school graduates held in St. Petersburg, it culminates in a spectacular light show, where ships — including one with scarlet sails — pass along the Neva River, fireworks cracking above them. Teenagers mill about the city and drink on the banks of the river while members of the Russian elite, officials and oligarchs alike, congregate to drink champagne on their luxurious yachts. No one enjoys the occasion more than President Vladimir Putin, who loves this student holiday in his hometown and never misses a private party on the river, watching the ships go by.…  Seguir leyendo »

While the dust starts to settle from Yevgeny Prigozhin’s abortive march on Moscow with his Wagner mercenaries, details of the deal that brought their short-lived insurrection to an end remain incomplete and confusing.

In fact, anybody who says they’re not bewildered by the situation plainly hasn’t been paying attention. But while the short-term impact of the challenge to Moscow’s authority is still playing out, the long-term consequences for Russia are far more clear.

Both President Vladimir Putin, and Russia itself, have been shown to be far weaker than they would like to pretend to be. The sight of Wagner columns apparently being waved through on their way to Moscow, and calmly breezing in to occupy a key military headquarters while holding coffees, has exploded the idea that Putin has a firm and unchallenged grip on power throughout his own country.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is a certain karmic justice to the brief mutiny staged in Russia by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mercenary group. The most serious challenge to Vladimir Putin’s 23-year reign came as a direct result of the way he has structured his regime—and from a man who owed his wealth and power to the president’s patronage. It has starkly highlighted the growing weaknesses of Mr Putin’s system of power, leaving him more vulnerable than ever.

Mr Putin’s Russia is a peculiar hybrid: an almost medieval court perched atop a modern, bureaucratic state. In this “adhocracy”, power is defined less by one’s formal role than by proximity to the monarch.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus has been boasting of his role in ending the brief mutiny in Russia. James Hill for The New York Times

Belarus’s president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, is trying to get our attention. He is preening himself on the global stage, making the rounds in the media to take credit for brokering an end to the armed mutiny in Russia last weekend. Just weeks before, the Belarusian strongman proudly announced the delivery of the first Russian tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, boasting that he would not hesitate to use them.

We don’t yet know the details of the deal Mr. Lukashenko claims to have brokered. They are probably being rewritten as President Vladimir Putin of Russia shores up his position at home and the mutiny’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin of the Wagner private military company, weighs his options.…  Seguir leyendo »

Yevgeny Prigozhin's attempted coup was, despite its failure, a seismic moment for Russia, laying bare President Vladmir Putin’s vulnerability. As the mutiny unfolded, I suggested that Russia’s democratic anti-war opposition should welcome the opportunity that it presented, not because Mr Prigozhin is our friend or ally—a thug and war criminal, he is anything but—but because Mr Putin’s fall can only be brought about by force.

This was only the second time that Mr Putin has faced a truly revolutionary moment, the first being the mass protests of 2011-13. Yet back then, the democratic opposition was unable to capitalise. We need to wake up to the fact that the fall of the Putin regime and the creation of a better Russia will not come about through the ballot box or other peaceful means but will require armed insurrection.…  Seguir leyendo »

Wagner mercenaries in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, June 2023. Stringer / Reuters

In the midst of the mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s brief rebellion on June 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin compared the “treason” of the Wagner paramilitary leader with the revolutionary turmoil of 1917. “Intrigues, squabbles, politicking behind the back of the army and the people led to great calamity, destruction of the army and the demise for the state, the loss of enormous territories, and, in the end, the tragedy of civil war”, Putin said in a televised address, blaming “internal betrayal” for Russia’s defeat in World War I and the collapse of its empire. “What we’re facing is exactly a betrayal”.…  Seguir leyendo »

Putin ya no es el mismo

El día del malogrado alzamiento de Yevgeny Prigozhin en Rusia, Moscú enmudeció. Había poco tráfico el sábado, y apenas personas en la calle. Se cancelaron actos y se cerraron parques, y prácticamente todo el mundo se quedó en casa, pegado a internet, mientras el convoy del ejército privado de Prigozhin se acercaba a la capital rusa.

Los moscovitas también compraron boletos de avión. Los precios de los vuelos de salida del país se dispararon el sábado a medida que los rusos trataron de asegurarse opciones. No era que Prigozhin pudiese ser su presidente lo que les preocupaba, sino la indeseada posibilidad de enfrentamientos en las calles de su ciudad, típicamente animada y despreocupada.…  Seguir leyendo »

El regreso de los caudillos

La agitación que causó en Rusia el Grupo Wagner, de Yevgeny Prigozhin, tiene absortas a las capitales en todo el mundo, pero probablemente en ningún lugar tanto como en Pekín. No solo porque Rusia es un socio de confianza para China, sino también porque hay claras semejanzas históricas entre lo que ocurrió en Rusia este fin de semana de insurrección y los eventos de hace un siglo que debilitaron a China y la dejaron vulnerable a las invasiones.

Hoy Rusia corre el riesgo de quedar dividida entre cuatro o cinco facciones, cada una con su ejército. Además del ejército ruso y el Grupo Wagner, hay fuerzas menores que responden a Ramzan Kadyrov, militarista y alcalde de Moscú, y está la Guardia Nacional (oficialmente bajo las órdenes del presidente Vladímir Putin, pero fuera de la cadena de mando del ejército ruso).…  Seguir leyendo »