Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Putin’s armor has been pierced

By Jeffrey A. Sonnenfeld, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. and William F. Browder

24 Jun 2023 · 4 min read

informed Summary

  1. Even if reports are accurate that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has negotiated a truce between Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin's revolt has revealed Putin's domestic control to be slipping, argue experts in this FP analysis.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is regularly credited as having said, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him.” But even if reports are accurate that Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has negotiated a truce between Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Prigozhin’s revolt has already revealed Putin’s domestic control to be slipping, and we are just in the first innings of a new era. With Putin no longer able to control the rival armed gangs of his own creation, his armor has been pierced, and his formidable aura is dissipating.

Having a 25,000-strong force of armed mercenaries seize Russia’s operational command center for the Ukraine war and advance toward Moscow was the biggest existential threat Putin has faced in his more than 20-year rule. Alexander Vindman, the former director for European affairs in the U.S. National Security Council, pronounced this uprising as having “grown into a full-fledged coup.” “The biggest beneficiary of this distraction is Ukraine, with Russian losing its war in Ukraine and opening up a second front on its own territories,” Vindman said.

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