For one day, Russia and the world press, and the social media with its many experts, were in a state of pandemonium as Yevgeny Prigozhin’s private army allegedly set out to crush Moscow. Fortunately, it all happened over the weekend, so everyone could watch what was happening, or rather what was being reported by those in control of the media.
In the blink of an eye, Prigozhin went from being a murderous Muscovite beast to a slightly aggressive but truth-abiding tough guy, because he said that he was leaving the Ukrainian front, that he was going to destroy his own country’s military leadership and everything else that came under his caterpillar’s feet along the way.
The Western press believed every word from Prigozhin because they wanted to believe the marauder. Well, interesting things were happening at the front, the situation had changed, friends had become enemies, enemies had become friends, and a Saturday afternoon was the perfect time to see it all. It is better than Formula 1, everyone always falls asleep during that one anyway.
Everyone believed Prigozhin’s words because they were driven by their desires. They wanted the Wagner mercenaries to break through the ring road and start shooting at the Kremlin, to make Vladimir Putin flee in shame. But what if the narrative, built on conjecture in the absence of any information, is false? What if those on the Russian side are also thinking and want everyone to believe that what they want to see is true? The war remains foggy, terribly strange, full of games and very real victims, lies and intimidation.
It’s not easy to do justice to the situation from afar, via TV and the internet. Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko persuaded Prigozhin not to destroy Moscow in order to protect the Russian people, and the Wagner leader accepted his argument. The story is a little suspect, but it is clearly interesting, and that is the important thing now for everyone to watch as it unfolds, because the show was not designed to be so beautiful, exciting and heartbreaking for nothing.
Of course, we are watching. Everybody is talking about it, and that’s really the success. The war has sucked people’s souls in, they are waiting for the gruesome details and videos, preferably live, preferably with a tank firing. President Putin fled Moscow roughly three times on Saturday. Wagner’s men were speeding along the M4 motorway from Rostov to Moscow, 25,000 or 7,000 of them, with or without helicopters, shooting down Russian troops or being shot down by the Russians. Among the thousands of fake news reports, it is not possible to filter out the truth, but only to construct a narrative according to one’s desires and hope that it is the truth.
Putin’s fate could be decided in 24 hours. You can easily read on a website and immediately believe the simplicity of such a statement. However, by evening, the fireworks end, baseless assumptions and wild claims are all forgotten, and the next cycle begins.
That is why it is not worth cheering for the private army with the romantic name to tear Moscow apart, nor for the Russian army to destroy Wagner’s troops. It is not worth hoping that the Ukrainian offensive will be successful, or that Russian troops will break through Ukraine’s strategic lines. Indeed, all of this only looks good in films with fake blood and talented extras. The only thing to cheer for now is peace.