Prigozhin died so that Wagner could live

by MMC
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Post-USSR needs: the oligarchs and Wagner

Russia’s urgent search for a free-market organization to replace the Soviet system that collapsed in 1991 has given rise to a capitalist elite class known as “oligarchs,” unlike any other nowhere else in the world. This capitalist class, which initially, in cooperation with Western countries, siphoned off resources from the Russian state, inevitably underwent a structural transformation after 1999, with Putin’s coming to power.

The early oligarchs were replaced by the business circles that Putin cultivated while ruling the city of St. Petersburg, and resources and wealth quickly changed hands. When the first oligarchs of the post-Soviet era insisted on doing things their way, they were purged, either by being forced to flee abroad or by being imprisoned. Prigozhin, thanks to his Petersburg roots, was able to carve out a place in the food industry as a chef within the oligarchic structure of this second period.

What differentiated Prigozhin from his peers was that he recognized the Kremlin’s needs in time and invested in these areas at the right time and place. Caught off guard by the rules of the market economy in 1991, the Russian state found itself at the mercy of the oligarchs. Beginning in 1999, with NATO’s eastward expansion, it was discovered that a similar error had been made in foreign policy. In fact, it was the consequences of this mistake that brought Putin to power. What was the mistake?

By 1999, it was clear that the verbal assurances given to Gorbachev, then first secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, by his Western counterparts and even by NATO officials, that NATO would not expand eastward were vain. However, by this time, Russia had abandoned its spheres of influence not only in Europe but also in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Asia-Pacific region. This vulnerability allowed the United States to intervene without deterrence in Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Serbia and Venezuela. The Kremlin urgently needed to find a solution to this imbalance created by the unipolar world.

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