Can Mother Russia free herself of her war-lords?

It has taken a fascist criminal to do it, but it appears that Vladmir Putin’s control of his image has cracked.

The Wagner mercenary army appears  beloved of Russian citizens in Rostov, the home of the Russian army’s Southern army command. Yevgeny Prigozhin’s u-turn on the M4 to Moscow suggests that anyone in Russia (or Belarus) can believe anything – or nothing of what they are being told.

Nobody should consider Prigozhin the hero of this piece. He is a despicable person –  Putin but without even the semblance of decency. It is good that both men’s standings are damaged, but we are yet to see an alternative to their totalitarianism.

And to my mind, what has happened over the weekend is good news for democracy. It certainly looks like good news for Ukraine’s democratic intent and it looks as if the spin will be a lot harder to sell in Russia.

Prigozhin’s analysis of why Russia invaded Ukraine has the ring of authenticity. He argued in a recent video that Russia’s prime motive for the war was the desire of Russian Oligarchs to get their hands on the booty of the Donbas.

This doesn’t show Russia having a strategic intention (as thought by Europe) but instead, that the war was opportunistic. This makes sense of the utter chaos being displayed today and of the incompetence of the special military operation.

It has taken 487 days and hundreds of thousands of lives to find this out. Russia remains a potent threat , for its arsenal of nuclear weapons, but its image is now of a keystone cops military and political command where governance has all but disappeared.

We can only guess at how this is playing to Russia’s many allies and semi-allies (including China)  , but I doubt that Putin will be able to play the part of world-leader going forward without memories of this weekend’s events raising a concealed titter.

With Putin and Prigozhin damaged goods, is there an opportunity for a new leader to gain ground and actually win a mandate democratically in 2024. This might sound fanciful, but after what we’ve seen over the past 48 hours, I have some hope.

My hope for “peace in the east” has strengthened. And it must be a just peace. Ukraine’s moral authority and justification for its struggle has been strengthened. There is now no question what kind of a war this is, and what kind of peace is needed to settle it.

My hope for Russia is that it finds a better way and rejects its current leadership on the basis of national pride.

Can Mother Russia free itself from her war-lords? She has in the past – but only when she finds her own voice. She needs to find  a new leader who acts for her people – not the oligarchs. We do not know this leader yet – we can only hope one emerges in the coming months.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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