Got a big belly laugh out courtesy of Bojan Pancevski, a European based correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, who wrote the article, Wagner’s Prigozhin Planned to Capture Russian Military Leaders. He claims to have the inside scoop on how Western intelligence agencies knew in advance that Prigozhin was going full Benedict Arnold, but is so naive that he did not realize he was being fed a fairy tale. He wrote:
Western intelligence agencies also found out early about the plans by Prigozhin, Putin’s former confidant, by analyzing electronic communications intercepts and satellite imagery, according to a person familiar with the findings. Western officials said they believe the original plot had a good chance of success but failed after the conspiracy was leaked, forcing Prigozhin to improvise an alternative plan.
This is a pitiful cover story. It is an insult to your intelligence to ask you to believe that the West’s intel folks discovered that Prigozhin was going rogue by “analyzing electronic communications intercepts and satellite imagery.” Exactly how does “satellite imagery” tell some photo interpreter that a coup is about to happen? Did Prigozhin scribble out his intentions on a big sign and carry it around outside for all to read? Maybe he was trying to recruit some muscle for the trip to Moscow. “Hey, I’m Going to Moscow to Grab Shoigu. Join Me!”
In my experience, coup plotters are careful not to put their plans in writing or to talk openly about them on phones or radios. A genuine coup starts with the assumption by the plotters that they could die if the plan does not succeed. That sobering thought tends to be accompanied by cautious, subdued activity, not reckless bragging or boasting. That includes shying away from the prolific use of texts or emails.
Do you remember the first rule of Fight Club? You don’t talk about Fight Club. Well, the first rule of espionage is that YOU DO NOT REVEAL YOUR SOURCES. Come to think of it, that used to be the cardinal rule of journalism as well. The “official” who fed Pancevski the “secret” account of how intrepid Western intelligence analysts solved the Prigozhin putsch puzzle broke that rule. Looks to me like he was confident that he had a willing tool in Pancevski and could count on him to persuade a gullible public that the CIA is really good at eavesdropping.
The fact that the CIA briefed the Gang of Eight in Congress on Prigozhin’s planned uprising two days prior means that the CIA had information from a human source. It could have been a recruited CIA asset or someone recruited and controlled by a foreign intelligence organization. But someone close to Prigozhin was blabbing. Or maybe it was Prigozhin himself.
I find it noteworthy that the Biden Administration went to extraordinary lengths to insist it knew nothing about the coup and certainly did not encourage it or support it. Oh no. Biden, Blinken and Nuland do not want Putin overthrown by force. Perish the thought.
I think this leak to Pancevski provides additional confirmation that Prigozhin was acting in concert with Western intelligence operatives. What remains unknown is whether Prigozhin was genuinely cooperating with the West or pretending to spy for the West while actually being controlled by Russian authorities. I continue to believe it is the latter. If Prigozhin committed treason then Putin’s decision to go unscathed into exile in Belarus sends the message that you can go after Putin and live. That is not being magnanimous, that is madness.
My read of the Wall Street Journal article is that it is the latest iteration of the West’s covert action to shape public opinion as well as damage control. It is no coincidence that Pancevski is told that other Russian Generals are under a cloud of suspicion:
Made aware of the leak, Prigozhin was then forced to act sooner than planned on Friday and managed to capture the southern Russian city of Rostov, a key command point for the invasion of Ukraine. The ease with which Wagner’s troops took the city of one million that is home to a large military airport suggests that some regular forces commanders could have been part of the plot, according to Western intelligence.
Western officials said they believe Prigozhin had communicated his intentions to senior military officers, possibly including Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian aerospace force. It couldn’t be determined whether Surovikin passed this information on to the FSB, or how the agency found out about Prigozhin’s plans.
Yep, toss Surovikin under the suspicion bus. Why in the world would the CIA or MI6 want to cast doubts on Surovikin? That could weaken him and affect his ability to counter the Ukrainian offensive. Oh, I got it. Never mind. This article is a graphic example that the West is not going to let up in its campaign to destroy Russia regardless of setbacks on the ground in Ukraine. I wonder if Putin, Gerasimov and Shoigu understand that fact.
Source material can be found at this site.