US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said while many of the details surrounding Saturday’s pandemonium in Russia are still unclear, it’s clear the internal conflict has exposed ‘cracks’ in the nation that ‘didn’t exist’. previously”. Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime Putin supporter who commanded private mercenary soldiers known as the Wagner Group, launched a violent rebellion against Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Wagner’s mercenaries appeared to have taken control of Rostov, a key southern city, and were leading an armed convoy towards Moscow when Prigozhin suddenly declared an end to the violent uprising less than 24 hours later.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian reporters that criminal charges against Prigozhin had been dropped in exchange for his return, as reported by state-controlled website TASS. According to Peskov, Prigozhin “will go to Belarus”, suggesting a form of official exile. Prigozhin’s resignation could alter the trajectory of the war due to his importance in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Brief as it was, his uprising posed the biggest threat to Putin’s rule in decades. “This is just another chapter in a very, very bad book that Putin wrote for Russia,” Blinken said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
According to Blinken, Prigozhin is Putin’s direct creation and is to blame for the “horrific brutality” in Ukraine. The United States remains “intensely focused” on Ukraine, he added, but it is too early to say what the split between the two men will mean for Russia. Blinken remarked that Prigozhin’s challenge to Putin’s authority was “extraordinary”, given that Prigozhin had succeeded in casting doubt on Russia’s stated reasons for invading Ukraine. Ultimately, he called the war “a devastating strategic failure” for Putin. The war against Ukraine, he argued, had turned into a strategic failure. “Russia is weaker economically, weaker militarily, and its position in the world has collapsed.” Blinken believes that in the weeks and months to come, the United States will hear more facts about the contract between Putin and Prigozhin, as well as the fate of the Wagner group.