From all the reliable accounts we have access to the Wagner column is driving toward Moscow, a journey of roughly 700 miles from the border with Ukraine which the column crossed some time yesterday. Moscow appears to be digging in and preparing for an attack. The mayor has canceled all work in the city tomorrow. There are rumors of lots of other things. But these facts seem clear, or as clear as anything can be at such a moment. The key fact I can see is that this relatively small armed group seems to be traversing the country more or less unopposed after taking the major regional center of Rostov essentially without a fight.
I’ve seen a number of people say there’s no one left. All the military resources are in Ukraine. But that can’t be true. There have to be sufficient forces in the rest of the country’s massive land mass to at least meet this force on equal numerical terms and I suspect quite a bit more. It’s important to remember this is a fairly small force. It’s hard to see how this could be happening if Prigozhin didn’t either have significant allies in the Russian military/security apparatus or if the country’s defenders simply aren’t willing to fight for Putin’s government. What we’re seeing is simply not compatible with the central government facing this threat in full command and control of all its nominal security and military resources.
Whatever happens in Moscow, it’s very hard for an authoritarian/strongman type regime to survive over time what we’re seeing right now, which is an erstwhile crony (literally a one-time caterer for Putin) marching an army on the capital.