Analysis: The insurrection was stymied, but Russia is a changed place

In this handout photo taken from video, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation from Moscow, Russia, on June 24.
In this handout photo taken from video, Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation from Moscow, Russia, on June 24. Russian Presidential Press Service/AP

The weekend’s events in Russia seem an almost surreal interruption to the long slog of conflict unfolding in neighboring Ukraine. Yevgeny Prigozhin’s challenge to the Russian state erupted and receded in the space of 24 hours, but the consequences of his short-lived mutiny may reverberate for much longer.

The brief drama forced a visibly angry President Vladimir Putin to address the nation early on Saturday and threaten Prigozhin with dire consequences, even raising the specter of civil war in the process. The much-prized sense of national purpose in an existential struggle against what Moscow falsely claims are Ukrainian neo-Nazis that were creatures of the West was punctured by what was at times a day of melodrama.

Some moments, such as the hasty erection of roadblocks on Moscow’s southern outskirts and the mobilization of Chechen special forces to move on Rostov, were reminiscent of the 1991 attempted coup by Soviet hardliners against Mikhail Gorbachev – not in a political sense but for the haphazard and inchoate nature of events.

Above all, the day exposed the transactional nature of relationships among Russian elites. What had begun as “treasonous” behavior and a criminal challenge to the state that must be ruthlessly dealt with ended with a tawdry deal brokered by the dictator next door that gave Prigozhin a “get-out-of-jail-free card,” and amnesty to the mutineers advancing on Moscow.

This was not lost on Kyiv, with an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, Mikhailo Podolyak, saying that “at the end of the day, everything goes back to normal, (Prigozhin) is not a traitor, he is a hero of Russia, and so on. It’s a failed state.”

Russian state media has gone to great lengths to show how Putin was in control throughout. “The whole night the president has been in touch with all law enforcement structures,” said Pavel Zarubin, a state TV reporter on Sunday.

But as Prigozhin was granted an escape route hours after betting the farm on overthrowing the military establishment, his departure from the scene still left Putin looking weaker, even a touch naïve.

1 comment:

  1. Weaker...even a touch naive...? A former KGB supremo...? Are you serious...? Yevgeny Prigozhin's mouth gave him away some time ago and the leash was kept short, and he did not like it... Wagner fought the most difficult war of all, house to house fumigation of the NATO enemy, the Battle of Bakhmut will go down in history as a 21st century heroic military operation... Still, Wagner could not survive in open space nor advance in a conflict with Chechnyan mercenaries... Russia most likely will double down on 卐elenskyy, and finish off the NATO financed al Qaeda-Schmeida/ISIS 'internationals'. Yevgeny Prigozhin's knew then his days were counted unless he settled his deludenoidal hissy fit and before killing a single Russian... He chose to leave infamy and suicide for another day... A win-win... Go figure...


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