| Anne Applebaum | MR Online

The real casualties of Russia’s ‘civil war’: the Beltway expert class

Originally published: The Grayzone on June 26, 2023 by Wyatt Reed (more by The Grayzone)  |

When Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a supposed revolt against Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 23, sending his forces on a march toward Moscow following a series of tirades against the country’s defense establishment, Washington’s expert class overflowed with an orgy of regime change fantasies.

For just over 12 hours, everyone from former U.S. ambassador to Russia and noted Hitler apologist Michael McFaul to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to neocon pundit Anne Applebaum exploded with seemingly libidinal excitement about a supposed “civil war” that was certain to feature “Russians…killing Russians,” along with “lots of casualties” and Putin “probably hiding somewhere.”

It was as though the Soviet Union was collapsing all over again, and Prigozhin, a character named on the FBI’s most wanted list whom the U.S. government has sanctioned for leading what it described as a “transnational criminal organization,” was suddenly a white knight storming into Moscow to liberate Russia from “the Putin regime” on the back of a tank. Move over, Juan Guaido.

Expecting a bloodbath and seismic political upheaval, corporate networks like CNN had budgeted wall-to-wall coverage of the coup that wasn’t, filling cable news green rooms with rent-a-generals, K Street think tankers, and war-hungry former diplomatic corps hacks.

On the afternoon of June 24, however, news broke across the U.S. that Prigozhin had struck a deal with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to end his protest and go into exile. Thus ended a largely bloodless affair that ultimately saw fewer documented deaths than the January 6 Capitol Riot.

Though the supposed revolt in Russia burned out faster than a Leopard tank on the way to Zaporizhzhia, we now know that a number of serious casualties were incurred inside the DC Beltway. The Grayzone obtained an exclusive look at the massacre some of America’s top Russia experts carried out against their own credibility.

McFaul McFails, again

Ever since he was unceremoniously ejected from Moscow for apparently attempting to organize a color revolution in 2012, Ambassador Michael McFaul has waged a personal jihad against the country’s government. His hatred of the Russian leadership grew so impassioned that he once declared that Putin was morally inferior to Adolf Hitler, embracing a fringe view associated with Holocaust deniers that asserts the Nazi dictator “didn’t kill German-speaking people.”

When the events of June 23 kicked off, McFaul could hardly contain himself. The disgraced diplomat immediately took to Twitter to insist without a shred of evidence to claim that Putin “has ordered his army and others to destroy Wagner & Prigozhin.”

“So there’s going to be a big fight,” he promised.

As for the Russian President, McFaul confidently declared: “I am sure that he is no longer in Moscow.” Just after noon on June 24, he seemed to believe the Russian president’s demise was imminent. “Rats are jumping” from Putin’s ship, he effused, referring to oligarch Arkady Rotenberg taking a flight to Azerbaijan. “This is now a civil war,” the self-styled expert confidently declared.

| Anne Applebaum Russia is sliding into what can only be described as a civil war | MR Online

Anne Applebaum: “Russia is sliding into what can only be described as a civil war”

But around 1:30 PM on June 24, the unwelcome news had made its way to Washington: Putin and Prigozhin had reached an agreement. There was to be no civil war in Russia, after all.

McFaul was suddenly forced to reckon with the reality that his predictions of a coup were premature, and that virtually everything he had said hours before was completely wrong. “Can anyone remember a mutiny or coup attempt that lasted 24 hours and no one really fought or was killed?,” pondered the retired diplomat, seemingly coming to grips with the obvious.

Then, like an alcoholic in denial after yet another blackout, McFaul whimpered,

I was wrong about this. Eager to learn why.

This May, anti-Russian pseudo-scholar and former Iraq war cheerleader Anne Applebaum predicted a decisive Ukrainian counter-offensive that would storm through Russian defenses and not only “liberate” Crimea, but encourage regime change from Moscow to Venezuela.

In an article co-authored by former Israeli prison guard and Atlantic Magazine editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg, and illustrated by the Davos frontman, Bono, (with apparent help from an Etch-a-Sketch), Applebaum openly fantasized about a madman taking control of Russia’s nuclear arsenal. “Even the worst successor imaginable,” she wrote, “even the bloodiest general or most rabid propagandist, will immediately be preferable to Putin, because he will be weaker than Putin. He will quickly become the focus of an intense power struggle.”

By June 24, Applebaum seemed to believe her fever dreams were coming true. And it was then that she breathlessly announced,

Russia is sliding into what can only be described as a civil war.

“If you are surprised, maybe you shouldn’t be,” she lectured readers, just hours before the bloodless “coup” came to a conclusion.

Applebaum’s husband is the former foreign minister of Poland, Radek Sikorski, who infamously tweeted his gratitude to the U.S. government for destroying the Nord Stream pipeline. While Sikorski deleted his tweet, Applebaum’s thoroughly discredited “civil war” article remains on the website of the Atlantic.

On June 25, Applebaum and McFaul were rewarded for their badly botched analysis with an appearance on MSNBC’s “Inside with Jen Psaki,” which is hosted by the Biden White House’s former press secretary.

| Volodymyr Zelensky Putin is very afraid | MR OnlineVolodymyr Zelensky: Putin is “very afraid”

“The man from the Kremlin is obviously very afraid and probably hiding somewhere, not showing himself,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky proclaimed on June 24. According to fact checkers, Zelensky did not issue this bold statement from inside a bunker or in front of a green screen.

The U.S. intelligence “community” claims “surprise”

On Sunday, CNN reported that U.S. intelligence analysts were taken by surprise by “the swiftness of the deal that was struck on Saturday.”

What’s more, they believed that Prigozhin’s march toward Moscow “would encounter much more resistance” than it did.

“I do know that we assessed it was going to be a great deal more violent and bloody,” an unnamed U.S. official reportedly told the outlet.

But DC’s disappointment with the lack of carnage on Moscow streets did not end there.

Kurt Volker declares “the end” for Putin

Kurt Volker is a former U.S. special representative for Ukraine negotiations who also operated as a de facto Raytheon lobbyist while serving as the executive director of the John McCain Institute. Volker also functioned as a liaison for U.S. and Ukrainian business interests while presiding over the founding of American University Kyiv.

During a June 24 CNN appearance, Volker declared that the brief moment of disorder in Russia marked “the end for Putin” and “the beginning of the end of Russia’s war in Ukraine.”

Christo Grozev: Bellingcat’s neocon-stradumus

Christo Grozev is the Russia director of the U.S. and UK government-funded website Bellingcat. This April, Grozev celebrated a terrorist attack that saw a Russian war blogger assassinated and a cafe full of civilians blown up in St. Petersburg, Russia.

With chaos seemingly intensifying inside the Russian Federation again, Grozev suddenly transformed from a glorified OSINT blogger into a geopolitical soothsayer with a unique ability to divine the fate of the Kremlin.

“Prigozhin says he’s got 25k strong army and he’s going to take power and deal with the ‘traitors’ at the top of before returning to the front line,” the Bellingcat commentator claimed on Twitter.

Am old enough to remember how Russia ‘pundits’ said I was talking nonsense predicting a Prigozhin coup attempt this year.

Having not been born literally yesterday, we at The Grayzone are thankfully old enough to remember when Prigozhin’s “coup attempt” failed to materialize and ended quickly with negotiations.

Our memory is so long, in fact, that we recall when the war prophet Grozev stated that Russia had expended 70 percent of its precision missile stocks back in April 2022. Since then, Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian targets have only increased.

Ian Bremmer, the Peter Hotez of international relations

As president of the Eurasia Group risk analysis firm, political scientist Ian Bremmer has leveraged his supposed expertise into a lucrative business.

Bremmer recently weighed in in defense of the absurdly double-talking pediatrician and pundit Peter Hotez, defending his decision not to debate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Covid-related issues on the grounds that Hotez was a credentialed expert, and RFK Jr. was not. “It would be like me debating elon [Musk] on electric vehicles. Or him debating me on international relations,” Bremmer argued, asserting his own superior credentials.

There’s no value added.

During the events of June 23, Bremmer joined the rest of the Beltway expert class in predicting imminent doom for Putin. “wagner territorial gains in russia dramatically faster than in ukraine,” Bremmer wrote in a viral post seen by more than 1 million Twitter users. Moments later, he joked that “ukraine has run out of popcorn,” implying that Kiev was eagerly preparing for Russia’s collapse.

Following the announcement of Wagner’s stand-down on June 24, an apparently disappointed Bremmer insisted “there’s no environment where [Putin and Prigozhin] hug it out.”

Top Biden officials’ travel plans interrupted

Among the most overlooked victims of the brief march on Moscow were high-ranking U.S. officials’ weekend plans.

On Saturday, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced that a planned visit to Jordan and Israel by Gen. Mark Milley, the top military officer in the U.S., had been canceled “due to the situation in Russia.”

Biden administration National Security Council director and possible human scarecrow Jake Sullivan was forced to cancel a trip as well. Sullivan had reportedly been slated to attend a conference on Ukraine in Denmark until Prigozhin decided to make a trip of his own toward Rostov-on-Don.

Stephen King, lost in fantasy

Horror author-turned-liberal Russiagate conspiracist Stephen King, who once praised Ukrainian Nazi collaborator and Holocaust perpetrator Stepan Bandera in a phone call with a prankster he believed to be Volodymyr Zelensky, was clearly titillated by the events of June 23. When Prigozhin’s forces briefly took over the city of Rostov-on-Don, King once again proved unable to contain his overactive imagination. “Putin sowed the wind. Now he must reap the whirlwind. Slava Ukraini!” he exclaimed.

Noted online stalker Idrees Ahmad predicts “the death of Aaron Mate’s career”

Idress Ahmad once existed on the margins of the UK’s antiwar movement, publishing a book attacking the Iraq war-era neocon cabal, suggesting Senators Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold voted for Iran sanctions because they are Jewish, and openly questioning the West’s narrative of a genocide in Darfur.

After running into financial trouble and escaping deportation to his native Pakistan “against the odds” thanks to a Home Office decision that remains unexplained, Ahmad transformed into the very thing he once condemned.

Having re-emerged as a rabid supporter of the West’s dirty war on Syria, Ahmad busied himself by stalking The Grayzone, even phoning its editor, Max Blumenthal, to threaten him against publishing a factual investigation of the Syrian White Helmets in 2016.

While Ahmad’s recent work at the spook-infested Newlines think tank has failed to generate much interest, even among his fellow regime change cheerleaders, we noticed his June 24 prophecy that Prigozhin’s “coup” would lead to the collapse of The Grayzone, the international committee of the Democratic Socialists of America, and “the death of Aaron Mate’s career.”

At the time of publication, we are still triggering Ahmad’s rage-a-holic personality while his own media career has gone about as far as Prigozhin’s march toward Moscow.

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