A point made around here ad nauseam is that Surprise is really important in warfare. Clearly Mr Wagner agrees, and has pulled off a beauty - he and his well-armed, well-disciplined horde. Absolut banditi, as they say in Russia. And Putin was caught absolutely napping: his own intelligence about his "own" forces is significantly poorer than the west's (is he not even monitoring the mobile phones, FFS??). I have waited 24 hours before posting because there was always the possibility of Putin pulling off a decisive counterstroke, but no, the man and his machine are as deeply inept and incompetent as ever.
Let's ask a few questions:
- did Prigozhin plan this? Or did he take Rostov on a quiet summer's evening when all Russians are drunk, and turn north in fuelled-up convoys complete with air defence units and tanks on low-loaders, just on a whim? Ans: planned
- did Prig know that Putin's airforce at least, has quite enough ground-attack assets to wipe out any concentration of vehicles before it reached Moscow? Ans: yes
- did Putin have any faith in his ability to order the wiping out of a concentration of vehicles before it reached Moscow? Ans: no
- did Prig have a "very high" expectation of "negotiations" before matters reached that pass? Ans: yes
- would he therefore have had some carefully-crafted terms in mind before this all kicked off, for when he found himself dealing with some poor intermediary who was still reeling from shock? Ans: oh yes he would
- would he also know what he's going to do next? Ans: he'll know a lot better than anyone else - and a lot better than any in Putin's clan know what they're going to do
Yes, Prig has made out like - a bandit. And all in 24 hours. Now? Well he won't want to follow in the footsteps of Wat Tyler, Robert Aske & co. It's to be imagined he has "assets" in Belorussia. Still, you wouldn't put too much money on him celebrating Xmas.
I look forward to the return of our trolls to tell us how this is all part of Putin's masterplan. But the long-suffering people of Russia might find that just a little bit harder to believe than before. Prig has marked their cards for them.
 and so did his troops, which makes it all the more impressive
 like, errr, Sadiq Khan
 Putin himself has been known to relate how in Russia, big disputes are settled over a big dinner at which both sides come armed to the teeth, but settle down to terms (and toasts). In short, Prig has successfully brought Putin to the table as an equal. And everyone in Russia understands
 like Mandelson