“It was a cool show!” laughs 43-year-old Ukrainian soldier Artem, when asked about the truly momentous and unexpectedly short-lived coup attempt in Russia over the weekend.

 

“We watched it with excitement and with popcorn,” he adds. “But the ending was disappointing – such a boring ending to such an ambitious beginning.”

 

Analysts, intelligence agencies, governments and anyone who even remotely follows the news are still trying to make sense of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s aborted march on Moscow – what sparked it? What was Prigozhin promised to call it off? What will the Wagner chief do in Belarus?

 

While the answers to these questions are still being debated, on the streets of Kyiv there is agreement on one thing.

 

“This is not the end of the show,” says Artem.

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On the face of it and as things stand right now, Wagner’s military coup was averted after Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko intervened with an offer Prigozhin couldn’t refuse, leaving President Putin un-toppled but severely humiliated and his authority diminished.

 

On the streets of the Ukrainian capital, people Kyiv Post spoke to were disappointed the coup did not cause more chaos but believe even as short as it was, it still benefits Ukraine.

 

“This is good for us,” 21-year-old student Maksym says. “It will influence the opinion of young Russians and they will have to realize that something is really wrong if this has happened.

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“Maybe they will start to think about it more and will start to understand more.”

 

The timing of the coup attempt – just a couple of weeks into Ukraine’s long-awaited summer offensive – is sure to also have implications on the battlefield.

 

“There are big advantages for Ukraine, and we need to use it during the counteroffensive,” 41-year-old soldier Dmytro tells Kyiv Post.

 

“The Wagnerians have moved away from the border, and any such movements like this are only to our advantage.

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“And it will also have demoralized the Russian army.”

 

These thoughts are echoed by 22-year-old medical student Mykhailo, who says “it is definitely in our favor” in the short term at least.

 

“It is at least one day of some operational pause, and it gives our Ministry of Defense a chance to strengthen positions, to bring up reserves and ammunition,” he says, adding: “And it shakes up the social situation in Russia.”

 

Those brief few hours from Friday night into Sunday evening when the possibility of a coup unfolding forced some to consider what a change in the Russian leadership would actually mean for Ukraine.

 

Seventy-two-year-old Kyiv City State Administration worker, Mykola, 72, suggests history is the best guide to show us the future.

 

“I think it was staged to humiliate Putin,” he says. “But they are all the same there - Prigozhin, Putin, Stalin, Beria – they all wanted power, and were all destroyed.

 

“So, this story will end the same way.”

 

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No one believes it would have precipitated the end of Russia’s war against Ukraine, though there is disagreement over how a change in the Russian leadership would shift the dynamics of the war.

 

“This unrest did divide them into two camps, though not for long,” says 22-year-old IT professional Pavlo. “I don’t think it would be very useful for us, because both of these camps believe they should continue the war and kill Ukrainians.”

 

Others disagree with a recurring theme emerging – Prigozhin is more “rational” than Putin and would therefore negotiations could potentially be more productive.

 

“Prigozhin is better than Putin because he is rational,” says 45-year-old “Chile”, a Belarusian soldier fighting for Ukraine in the Kastuś Kalinoŭski regiment.

 

“He is a thief. And you can always negotiate with a thief. Especially if you have a machine gun.

 

“A thief understands power.”

 

Maksym agrees, saying: “He’s a more rational person. If he realized the state of the Russian economy and other threats, he would make some concessions and start some negotiations.”

 

At the moment, these points are moot – Prigozhin is reportedly heading for Belarus in exchange for not being prosecuted as the “traitor” which Putin branded him less than 24 hours before coming to an agreement with him.

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What comes next is anyone’s guess, but everyone agrees there is more still to come in this strange saga.

 

“Prigozhin will be finished very quickly, he betrayed Putin,” says Artem. “And Putin is very vindictive.”

 

Then, laying bare the huge uncertainty that hangs over everything, he adds: “Or Prigozhin will pull off a cunning adventure that no one knows about yet.”

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Comments (3)

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Cedar
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I don’t believe Lukashenko would do anything without an order from Putin, & the outcomes of this fiasco seem to be
a) that Muscovy keeps relentlessly attacking Ukraine as it has done for 16 months
b) that both nuclear weapons and Prigozhin are now within striking distance of Kyiv and
c) that Prigozhin, to survive, needs to redeem himself in the eyes of Russians by presenting himself as more patriotic than Putin, so has every incentive to inflict more horror on Ukraine. The threat of his presence also takes defenders away from the south & east.

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I support
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He pissed because they lost a lot of fighters and didn't get much help from the Russian army at Bakmut. 20 000 dead . He is an asshole but he is not dumb. He showed the army and Putin don't get to comfortable I can reach you. Don't fuck with me.

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Stuart
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Prigozhin is now even closer to Kyiv! Is this part of a cunning subterfuge by him and Putin? I wouldn’t trust either of them a centimetre!

Maxi
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@Stuart,

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Maxi
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@Stuart, You are right of course - Prigozhin with his loyal troops all gathering in Belarus and now with tactical nukes to prevent retaliation and Kyiv open from its rear with the UAF engaged elsewhere. Prigozhin knows the mistakes

David
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@Maxi, Russia can no longer benefit from the use of tactical nukes. Due to the virtual destruction of may of the elite units of the Russian forces, they no longer have sufficient modern tanks and armored personnel carriers left that are protected from NBC fallout, and could operate in a contaminated battlefield, e.g. bypass nuked positions and make breakthroughs.
What the Russians have left is mainly outdated reserve equipment that are incapable of operating on a nuclear battle field.

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