RUSSIA – It has been speculated that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have been damaged by the Wagner Group’s failed uprising over the weekend. Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagners, says the insurgency has been building for months due to the deliberate withholding of supplies by the conventional military and, more recently, a direct Russian missile attack on his forces.
Perhaps that is why his protest seemed to be aimed at the Russian general staff rather than Putin himself. Either the case failed or its purpose was reduced to a symbolic one, but either way it was over in a day. It will take a long time to figure out what happened in this situation.
But now we have to consider how much the Prigozhin scandal will hurt Putin and how it will affect the battle in Ukraine. Putin’s position is the key to understanding everything. Although this was a genuine coup attempt, it presented little real danger to the Kremlin. It was well known that Prigozhin got into trouble with the central authorities.
So why would a failed putsch led by a known malcontent diminish Putin’s position? And what exactly does it mean to be weakened? Does this suggest that the General Staff and other department heads will disobey his orders? Does that mean he’s unemployed?
If Putin were to be politically weakened, he might be unable to fire officials and generals or make executive choices. This is a very important turn of events. Russia is at war and needs a strong military hierarchy. The command structure would collapse if Putin were weakened, and there would be no supreme leader. Putin is unlikely to be weakened under these circumstances; he would probably be ousted. Who would take his place is the big question.
While Prigozhin may have wanted the job, he gave in to another Putin puppet, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Someone I don’t know could emerge, of course, but in the absence of a clear successor, I’m not sure what that means for Putin’s position. Even if it did, I don’t see how the failure of a coup planned and executed in less than a day could harm him.
What the Wagner group was doing on the battlefield is a more pressing mystery. Even though private military contracts are common, Wagner’s position in Russia was highly unusual as he was tasked with carrying out some of the war’s most critical engagements, a task more commonly associated with conventional forces than paramilitary groups.
As his function changed, Prigozhin pursued his own plan outside the army command structure, sometimes openly mocking his opponents, who responded by cutting off his supplies. Thus, two armies attempted to fight a common enemy but ultimately failed.
Everything that happened is Putin’s fault. They, including, had the impression that Russia could easily and quickly defeat Ukraine. The Russian attack was halted almost instantly when its tank assault failed. Russia hadn’t won the war but hadn’t lost it either, so he added Wagner to the mix. Putin therefore grossly underestimated the Ukrainian and Russian armies and, rather than retreat, he sent Wagner into the conflict. The unusual solution only caused more confusion. The insurgency arose amid the chaos.
In this regard, suppressing a coup is not the admission of defeat that many assume. The failure was to cause the need to hire Wagner in the first place. The question today is to what extent Moscow can examine its military plans and identify major flaws. Putin has managed to avoid a review of his military plans so far. Will this success, one of Putin’s few, lead to a review?
Some people think something sinister was going on here. A section of the Wagner group should be involved in the preparation if this were to happen, as should the President of Belarus, the Russian general staff, members of Putin’s staff, etc. There could never be a well-planned plot if so many people knew about it. I’m curious how much specific information Lukashenko was able to request. As a former KGB agent, Putin is well aware of the absurdity of the conspirator’s strategies. A plot involving so many people would never be attempted by a professional.