Monday, June 24FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA, PALESTINE WILL BE FREE

Prigozhin’s Folly

by Seymour Hersh

“The Biden administration had a glorious few days last weekend. The ongoing disaster in Ukraine slipped from the headlines to be replaced by the “revolt,” as a New York Times headline put it, of Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the mercenary Wagner Group. The focus slipped from Ukraine’s failing counter-offensive to Prigozhin’s threat to Putin’s control. As one headline in the Times put it, “Revolt Raises Searing Question: Could Putin Lose Power?” Washington Post columnist David Ignatius posed this assessment: “Putin looked into the abyss Saturday—and blinked.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken—the administration’s go-to wartime flack, who weeks ago spoke proudly of his commitment not to seek a ceasefire in Ukraine—appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation with his own version of reality: “Sixteen months ago, Russian forces were . . . thinking they would erase Ukraine from the map as an independent country,” Blinken said. “Now, over the weekend they’ve had to defend Moscow, Russia’s capital, against mercenaries of Putin’s own making. . . . It was a direct challenge to Putin’s authority. . . . It shows real cracks.”

Blinken, unchallenged by his interviewer, Margaret Brennan, as he knew he would not be—why else would he appear on the show?—went on to suggest that the defection of the crazed Wagner leader would be a boon for Ukraine’s forces, whose slaughter by Russian troops was ongoing as he spoke. “To the extent that it presents a real distraction for Putin, and for Russian authorities, that they have to look at—sort of mind their rear as they’re trying to deal with the counter offensive in Ukraine, I think that creates even greater openings for the Ukrainians to do well on the ground.”

At this point was Blinken speaking for Joe Biden? Are we to understand that this is what the man in charge believes?

We now know that the chronically unstable Prigozhin’s revolt fizzled out within a day, as he fled to Belarus, with a no-prosecution guarantee, and his mercenary army was mingled into the Russian army. There was no march on Moscow, nor was there a significant threat to Putin’s rule.

Pity the Washington columnists and national security correspondents who seem to rely heavily on official backgrounders with White House and State Department officials. Given the published results of such briefings, those officials seem unable to look at the reality of the past few weeks, or the total disaster that has befallen the Ukraine military’s counter-offensive.“

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