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RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
The world remains baffled by last weekend’s events in Russia. Reports have appeared in the US intelligence community’s favorite news organs that senior Russian military officers knew in advance about Prigozhin’s plans and perhaps promised support to him or even helped him plan the mutiny. General Sergei Surovikin, in particular—known as “General Armageddon” for his appalling bloodletting in Syria—is said to have backed Prigozhin. This makes intuitive sense, because Surovikin has a grudge: In October, he was appointed head of operations in Ukraine, but shortly afterward, Putin changed his mind and replaced him with Gerasimov—a severe humiliation.
US intelligence officials, according to the New York Times, have spotted other signs of divided loyalty among the generals. For example, the first deputy head of the Main Directorate of the General Staff, Vladimir Alekseyev condemned the mutiny, but somehow Prigozhin marched unopposed into Rostov-on-Don, where Alekseyev was seen having a nice chat with him. So the going theory seems to be that Prigozhin was under the impression that at least part of the Russian military would be on his side—and he called it off only because this support failed to materialize.
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