This past Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a speech reacting to the Wagner Group’s futile march on Moscow. In his narrative, Putin claimed that those involved in the uprising quickly realized that they didn’t have the support of the military or the people. Sounds like a simple and straight answer, right? Well, turns out, Putin’s words have caused quite a ripple effect within the pro-war circles in Russia.
These war enthusiasts didn’t hold back on sharing their scorn for Putin’s speech, a sentiment echoed in a recent analysis by Allison Quinn. The Russian president had applauded the “bravery” of the Wagner mercenaries, who were involved in deadly clashes with service members and attempted to overthrow military leadership during the recent upheaval. The irony of Putin’s praise for those who directly challenged his authority had tongues wagging, particularly in pro-war quarters.
With Putin confidently striding down a literal red carpet at the Kremlin, he praised the military and security services for “preventing a civil war.” The critics, however, were having none of it.
The pro-war Telegram channel “Thirteenth” didn’t shy away from calling out Putin’s narrative as “news from a parallel reality.” Another critic pointed out the glaring omission in Putin’s speech – a failure to address the root causes of the uprising and the systemic issues that not only gave rise to the Wagner Group but also found resonance with many people.
Enter Igor Strelkov, former commander of Russia’s proxy forces in Ukraine’s occupied Donetsk region. His assessment of Putin’s speech? He was less than impressed, and that’s putting it mildly. He went on record stating, “I have not seen anything more pitiful performed by a man remotely resembling the president. Great job everyone… The unrest continues.”
Moreover, Yury Kotenok, a pro-Russian military blogger, added to the growing chorus of disbelief with his baffled remark, “I just can’t believe that this is it.”
It seems Putin’s attempt to assert control and craft a compelling narrative is not being received as intended. As it appears, the internal discord and skepticism continue to bubble within Russian war hawks. This a stark reminder that alternate realities only work when everyone buys into the illusion.