Putin’s regime is not safe yet and still faces several major threats despite the end of Wagner Group’s attempted uprising, says former British Army colonel Richard Kemp. The coup, which saw rebelling Wagner mercenaries march within 200km of Moscow, ended with Yevgeny Prigozhin agreeing to leave Russia for Belarus. Colonel Kemp claimed Prigozhin is now an “irrelevancy” but suggested that other threats could come from within Russia.
He said: “[Before the uprising] Putin was regarded as being a strategic and political genius, who was really pretty much infallible.
“That has now fallen away and he has shown himself to be a weak leader now.
“It’s partly Prigozhin’s attempted coup but also his failures in Ukraine. Everyone can see that he has not achieved in Ukraine what he wanted to achieve, and that has undermined his credibility.
“I think the reality is that now the genie is out of the bottle. He could face multiple challenges from multiple parts of Russian society from the elites to some of the private armies etc. The elite in Moscow will be now calculating where their future interests lie. They previously depended on Putin but will see that he is not someone they can depend on.”
Colonel Philip Ingram MBE, a former British army intelligence officer, echoed Kemp’s forecasts.
He said: “All is not harmonious in planet Moscow and if Prigozhin has planned this, he will have planned it with others. There’s a very good chance there will be others looking to do it again. We ain’t seen anything yet.”
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Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, wrote on Twitter: “Despite the fact that Yevgeny Prigozhin has been given the image of a ‘selfmade man’ and impulsive ‘loner’ among the Russian establishment, neither his ‘rise’ nor the current revolt could have happened if he did not have allies. Possible allies of Prigozhin are in the shadows.”
Prighozin is understood to be connected to high-ranking military elites and elites in Russian society, including General Sergei Surovikin, who he previously praised as “the most competent commander of the Russian army”.
However, it is still uncertain who, if anyone, helped plan Prigozhin’s rebellion, and whether others will try to launch another coup is speculative.
“Anyone who tells you they can fully understand the shifting sands beneath Moscow is deluding themselves. The reality is that nobody knows or understands what events will unfold in the coming weeks or months,” said Colonel Kemp.
He added that he thinks the way for Putin to prevent any leadership challenges is by ending the war in Ukraine successfully.
But herein lies another problem, according to Kemp: it will be “very difficult” for Putin to succeed, especially after the uprising.
He explained: “I think it’s made it very difficult for the Russians because there was already low morale, including on the front line, and this situation will have compounded that.
“You could see mass desertions, dissent, surrendering taking place. I think the Ukrainians need to try to capitalise on that by sending material over to the Russians. Dropping leaflets… telling people to surrender.”
Colonel Philip Ingram also claimed that the coup will cause Putin to ramp up pressure for a breakthrough on the frontlines, which will make it harder for his generals to succeed.
He said: “Those closest to Putin are not advising him with the truth of what’s going on.
“[Putin putting pressure on the military] will just add extra confusion because people will be trying to protect themselves more. It will make them even less confident at making any decisions.”
Earlier today, Russian state TV aired a seemingly pre-recorded interview with Putin who said his regime was assessing how Russia could “step up our efforts” in Ukraine.
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