Is Vladimir Putin’s power in Russia at risk after the Wagner group rebellion?

The crisis that took place in Russia this weekend after the rebellion of the mercenaries of the Wagner group against the Kremlin exposed “real fissures” on the authority of the president Vladimir Putin after he was forced to accept a lot agreement mediated by Belarus.

(Read here: The rebellion of the Wagner group presents Putin with his biggest challenge since he took power)

This was stated this Sunday by the Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken, during an interview with the chain CBSNews.

(See also: The Wagner group: what is it and what is its relationship with the Russian government?)

The uprising of Yevgeny Prigozhin, Wagner’s boss, and his militias marked “a direct challenge to Putin’s authority. So this raises deep questions and shows real cracks,” Blinken said during this interview.

Wagner’s region is
a direct challenge to the authority of
Putin. So this raises deep questions and shows cracks.

However, the head of US diplomacy still considered it “too early” to speculate on the impact of this crisis on Russia or on the war in Ukraine. However, he opined that “to the extent that attention is diverted from Russia (…) this creates, I think, an additional advantage” for kyiv in the midst of an offensive against Moscow’s forces.

The statements by the senior US official come a day after the crisis that kept Russia in suspense for just over 24 hours, when a group of mercenaries led by Prigozhin – an ally of Putin and very close to Kremlin circles – marched towards Russian territory and took control of three cities.Prigozhin accused the General Staff of attacking his troops and not providing them with weapons and ammunition to fight the kyiv army.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, and President Vladimir Putin.

Although the episode was settled with an agreement mediated by Minsk for the paramilitary chief to settle on Belarusian soil, and he will be exempted from any type of criminal case, there are still many questions in the air.

Many wonder how the “Wagnerites” were able to advance so much and wonder if it was either a weakness of the Russian military command or a deliberate decision to allow negotiations.

The militants, who are an armed wing of Russia, crossed the border without any resistance, entered Rostov-on-Don and occupied without a single shot a barracks and an airfield and other military objectives, in addition to displacing at least four military columns almost to Moscow. without suffering a drop.

The Western allies, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Germany, closely followed the episodes this weekend on Russian soil and have not hesitated. calling it one of the biggest challenges Putin has faced since he came to power 23 years ago.

People pose for photos on a tank reading ‘Siberia’ as soldiers from the private military company (PMC) Wagner Group block a street in central Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia.

Photo:

ARKADY BUDNITSKY. EFE

For Brian Whitmore, senior researcher at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, “if Prigozhin does not pay a high price for his rebellion, he will put Putin’s regime in grave danger. This is because political change comes to Russia when three factors are present: a divided elite, a dissatisfied public, and the absence of fear. If fear is removed from the equation, then Putin will be in danger.”

Since the war broke out, two large groups within the Kremlin elites have emerged in Russia. “Those who want the conquest of kyiv and others who want to return to the Russian world before the invasion broke out on February 24, 2022. None of these things will happen; therefore no one is happy”, adds Whitmore in an article published yesterday by the Atlantic Council.

“Of these two factions, the former are the most powerful and the most serious threat. This has put Putin in a very precarious position regardless of how the Prigozhin rebellion is resolved,” the analyst notes. The truth is that the Russian authorities had never shown such a lenient attitude towards their detractors.

This has put Putin in a very precarious position regardless of how the Prigozhin rebellion is resolved.

However, for the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank in the United States, sAlthough Russia is not “on the verge of a great upheaval,” rebellion can lead to profound changes in Russian power.

“After the rebellion, we should expect to see a reorganization of the government (…). There will be many accusations within the Kremlin, as the elite factions seek to save their own positions and erode those of their rivals,” this organization explains in an article analyzing what happened this weekend.

(Also: Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin, the unpredictable head of the Wagner paramilitary group?)

So far, Putin’s main allies have backed him. China and Turkey have expressed their intention to Moscow to collaborate to “stabilize the situation”. While, in the streets of the country, normalcy begins to return little by little. Many cities have already lifted the restrictions they had imposed, especially in the three towns that Wagner occupied.

And at press time, international agencies had reported that Wagner’s troops were returning to their camps in Ukraine, but Prigozhin’s whereabouts were unknown, although he is expected to arrive in Belarus soon. The truth is that, after this crisis in which Russia plunged, “the winners and losers will become more evident in the coming weeks,” says the Council on Foreign Relations.

CARLOS JOSE REYES GARCIA
INTERNATIONAL SUB-EDITOR
TIME

What is happening in Russia and why did the Wagner group reveal itself?

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