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  Opinion   Edit  26 Jun 2023  AA Edit | Putin tastes humiliation

AA Edit | Putin tastes humiliation

Published : Jun 26, 2023, 12:19 am IST
Updated : Jun 26, 2023, 12:19 am IST

Will the mercenary group Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin leave President Vladimir Putin considerably weakened?

Russian president Vladimir Putin (AP)
 Russian president Vladimir Putin (AP)

The extraordinary events in Russia as a confrontation between the mercenary group Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russia’s military chiefs may have been manipulated to contain a rebellion of a type not known in that country for more than a century. But they will leave President Vladimir Putin considerably weakened to the extent that this could well be the beginning of the end of his two decades plus hold on power at the Kremlin.

An intervention by the Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, perhaps with an agreement to compensate the mercenary group, whose raison d’etre in collecting troops from among renegade soldiers and hardcore prisoners is after all money or the power to make money, may have staved off what appeared to be the biggest threat to the Russian system of powerful generals and oligarchs who benefit from presidential favours and patronage.

The growth of a monstrous group to buttress the official Russian army in pursuing common goals as in the Ukraine war, was bound to be riddled with risk, especially after the war did not go as anticipated once it was started on February 24, 2022, by Mr Putin’s invasion. Before the convoy was turned back after Mr Putin’s strong message and word from Belarus for a compromise, the Russian people living in the path of the incipient push to Moscow seemed to welcome the challenge to Putin rule and its chief collaborators in Russian army generals.

Mr Putin himself saw shades of the 1917 Revolution in the tide of events, which could still swell one day to pose a bigger challenge to the unity of power he established through his system of cronies. What happens from here is anybody’s guess, including the fate of ‘Putin’s chef’ Prigozhin. What will be the effect on the Ukraine war as Russia’s top echelons and military brass are distracted by the march that came as close as 200 km from Moscow also remains in the realm of speculation. But the West must now believe that a weakened Russia and Putin is good news as they scramble to aid Ukraine in its defence.

Tags: president vladimir putin, belarus, kremlin