Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday June 27, 2023
Putin, Prigozhin, and Lukashenko, Engaging in a Barbaric Dance of Bloodshed
The recent illegal invasion of Ukraine orchestrated by Vladimir Putin, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and Alexander Lukashenko has brought to light the depths of their collective depravity. This trio of criminals has choreographed a hideous slavic dance of bloodshed, leaving a trail of destruction and despair in their wake. It is imperative that we direct our disdain towards these individuals and hold them accountable for their heinous actions.
The events surrounding Yevgeny Prigozhin’s revolt against Vladimir Putin were shocking and unexpected. However, the future remains uncertain, and we must remain vigilant, focusing our attention on Minsk, the Belarusian capital, where Prigozhin has reportedly sought refuge. The outcome of this drama depends not only on Prigozhin’s position in Minsk but also on how Putin and his cohorts manage the fallout within Russia.
From the moment Prigozhin ordered his 25,000-man-strong paramilitary force to march from Rostov-on-Don, it became apparent that Putin’s grip on power was slipping away. The fact that the Wagner Group managed to reach striking distance of the Kremlin unimpeded is a testament to the fundamental weakness of Putin’s regime. This armed uprising resulted in the loss of 15 Russian servicemen and sent shock waves across the globe.
Analysis: What just happened in Russia?
Prigozhin has blamed Russia’s Minister of Defence, Sergey Shoigu, and Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, for the march, citing ammunition shortages and their mishandling of the war effort. However, the root cause of this disastrous situation and the Kremlin’s failure to contain the threat lies in the unchecked corruption that Putin has allowed to flourish. Putin and Prigozhin share a history dating back to the lawless days of St. Petersburg in the 1990s. While Putin was immersed in mafia violence, Prigozhin catered to gangsters, secret agents, and political power brokers.
Putin’s rise to power opened doors for Prigozhin, earning him the nickname “Putin’s Chef” as he organized state dinners. Putin further facilitated Prigozhin’s ascent by securing him billions of dollars in defense contracts. Since Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in 2014, Prigozhin has become the face of Putin’s military adventurism.
Alexander Lukashenko, known for his oppressive regime, played a role in brokering a temporary truce between Prigozhin and Putin. This is not the first time Lukashenko has been involved in such negotiations. Minsk has served as a regular stopover for Russian paramilitary forces, and Lukashenko himself claimed that Wagner mercenaries were sent to overthrow his government. His recent revelations about attempting to broker a deal between Putin and Ukraine’s President Zelensky regarding Crimea further raise suspicions.
Prigozhin, wanted in the United States for interfering in the 2016 presidential elections and subject to international sanctions, may face trial for war crimes if he escapes assassination attempts. His fate remains uncertain, but it is likely that he will be used as a pawn in a new round of Belarusian chess. The question that remains is who will be sacrificed next on the path to a potential Minsk III agreement. The bargaining over Prigozhin’s future is far from over.
The trio of Putin, Prigozhin, and Lukashenko has unleashed a wave of destruction and suffering through their illegal invasion of Ukraine. Their disdain for human life and their disregard for international norms and laws cannot be tolerated. It is crucial for the global community to condemn their actions and ensure that they face the consequences for their crimes. Only then can we hope for justice and a brighter future for those affected by their atrocities. (AI)