Make no mistake: Russia is in the early hours of its first civil war since 1917.
The battle for Moscow is about to begin and Putin and his generals are desperately preparing to make what could be their last stand.
Who exactly will control the Russian Federation and its nuclear arsenal a few days from now?
It’s anyone’s guess.
But there is a very real possibility that Putin and his regime will be overthrown.
A key question: Will Russia’s most elite military units remain loyal to Putin or switch sides and fight against him?
Putin is in panic mode, precisely because he does not know the answer.
He is reinforcing military units that he believes are loyal to him around Moscow and the Kremlin.
He also went on live national television on Saturday to denounce the coup plotters and demand that the Russian military stay loyal to him and the state.
But the hour of reckoning is fast approaching.
Widespread reports now indicate that rebel mercenary forces led by Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group — including battle tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery and missile batteries and tens of thousands of battle hardened commandos — have broken through roadblocks and are rapidly advancing on Moscow.
“Putin made the wrong choice,” the Wagner Telegram channel texted out on Saturday. “All the worse for him. Soon we will have a new president.”
In his speech, Putin called the Wagner forces “criminals” and “terrorists,” even though Putin has been paying them to fight for Russia in Ukraine.
In a statement, Prigozhin rejected Putin’s characterization.
"The President was deeply mistaken about the betrayal of the homeland; we are patriots of our homeland,” Prigozhin insisted. “We fought and continue to fight.”
“We are patriots,” he added. “And those who oppose us today are those who have gathered around the scum.”
Keith Kellogg, a former national security advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, tweeted on Saturday: “Putin has a problem. Prigozhin has taken a major city (Rostov-on-Don) and is on the M4 highway that leads to Moscow. Rostov is also a critical logistics center for the war in Ukraine which Prigozhin has now said is wrong. If the Army starts to turn, trouble for Putin.”
Bill Browder, a Russian dissident and fierce Putin enemy living in exile, agrees.
“This is the trend that everyone needs to watch over the coming hours,” Browder tweeted. “There’s no way that Wagner can take over the Putin regime with 25k troops. It will all depend on whether the military stays loyal to Putin or starts switching sides.”
“We need to understand Putin is a mass murderer and Prigozhin is also a mass murderer,” Browder added. “There are no good guys in this fight. Having said that, Prighozin said yesterday the Ukraine invasion was a mistake so there’s a chance if he wins, the war would end. That’s impossible with Putin.”
“If this is a color revolution in Russia, it’s the color of money,” notes Garry Kasparov, the famed Russian grandmaster chess champion who also lives in exile because of his intense and open hatred of what Putin has done to his country. “Crooks fighting thugs for turf and resources and the power to hold them. Prigozhin could end up dead or like another Kadyrov, bought off to murder for the regime again. No honor among thieves and killers.”
Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012 to 2014 under then-U.S. President Barack Obama, warns that mass bloodshed could be coming.
“Putin was clear in his speech,” McFaul tweeted. “He has ordered his army and others to destroy #Wagner & #Prigozhin. So there's going to be a big fight. Russians will be killing Russians, probably in large numbers, unless Prigozhin surrenders.”
Pray for the Russian people at this hour.
They are truly sheep without a shepherd.
Putin and his regime are monsters that need to be removed.
But Prigozhin and his forces are also monsters.
The good news is that they have stopped slaughtering Ukrainians for the time being. But we certainly don’t want them in charge of Russia and its nuclear weapons.
Please pray, too, for the true followers of Jesus Christ in Russia, that they will be boldly and courageously preaching the gospel to their friends and neighbors.
Judgment is coming to Russia for all of its wickedness over the last century. There is no escaping that truth.
But God loves the Russian people and any who truly and sincerely repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness and eternal life will find it.
As for how this all plays into Bible prophecy, I appreciate those of you who are asking.
The honest answer, however, is that it’s just too early to say.
Realize this is a pivotal moment in the 1,000-year history of Russia.
But don’t draw any quick and simplistic conclusions.
Stay tuned to the ALL ISRAEL NEWS team for unfolding developments and analysis.
Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.