The Toad versus the Scorpion
Notes on the mutiny in Russia. (Bookmark this page; these notes will be updated throughout the day.)
As you’ve surely heard, war has broken out between Putin and Prigozhin, who at the time of writing is already halfway to Moscow.
It turns out that I can’t edit or update a cross-posted article, so I’ll be updating this post, not the one you just received, throughout the day with breaking news and links to any sources of insight I find useful. You’ll only be receiving this newsletter, though, so that I don’t overwhelm you with mail.
So click on the headline of this newsletter or on the grey button on the upper right that says “Open in app or online”—that will take you to the updated post—and bookmark this page.
June 24, 23:37 pm Paris time:
And the day concludes with a podcast wrapping it all up. That’s all the wisdom I’ve got to impart for the day, folks—I’m beat.
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June 24, 19:56 pm Paris time:
In a few hours, old Cosmopolicast favorite Vladislav Davidzon and new Cosmopolicast favorite Ariel Cohen will be on the Cosmopolicast to discuss the news of the day. Do you have questions for them? Let me know—I’ll ask.
Putin is hiding in the bunker of his residence in Valdai. His closest friends and associates also flew there. The dictator is in a panic. Additional troops advanced towards Valdai to protect him. My sources just said this.
Wagner convoys are now in Elets, about 250 miles from Moscow.
The Kremlin is said to be mining the roads to Moscow—unconfirmed.
UPDATE: Prigozhin has ordered his fighters to return to their bases to avoid bloodshed. He’s 200 kilometers from Moscow—have they struck a deal?
Mark Galeotti: There are two central military units assigned to guard Moscow, the 4th Guard “Kantemirovskaya” Tank Division and the 2nd Guards Motor Division. There’s at least one regiment of 3,000 men in Moscow at all times:
Beyond that, there are various units of the Spetsnaz special forces; the National Guard and specialized riot police. And the Interior Ministry has a large police force. While not exactly military units, their members are all armed and could be called upon to shoot at the Wagner mercenaries.
On the other side, the Wagner group is estimated to have some 25,000 men, although accounts vary as to how many are deployed along the Russia-Ukraine front and how many are in far-flung assignments in the Middle East and Africa.
Whatever the number, Mr. Galeotti noted, it is likely insufficient to take on all the government forces mustered in Moscow, especially because Wagner fighters are limited in terms of their own air power, transportation and other logistics issues.
They’re evidently pulling Kadyrovites out of Donbas to fortify Rostov. Kadyrov’s troops, however, are stuck in traffic about 90 kilometers out of the city:
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