Putin only projects weakness

Photo illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

Photo illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman promised fireworks before the Russian president’s remarks on Monday evening in Moscow. Putin, however, did not deliver.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “These statements, without exaggeration, will determine the fate of Russia.” But no.

Instead, a pale, gaunt Putin spoke for only a few minutes. But the most substantial part of his remarks was not what he said, but rather what he didn’t say.

Prigozhin just got double-crossed by Putin’s duplicity

His words weren’t just predictable, they were almost pathetically predictable. He spoke of the bravery of his security services in suppressing the rebellion.

This does not happen. But whatever.

The neo-Stalinist in him always wanted to rewrite history. He said that “the organizers of this rebellion will be brought to justice, this criminal activity which aims to weaken the country”. He didn’t name Yevgeny Prigozhin (the leader of the Wagner Group and the organizer of the mercenary uprising) by name, but as they sometimes say here in the US, if I was Prigozhin, I wouldn’t buy bananas green.

Ukraine will be the big winner as Prigozhin turns on Putin

The last part of the very brief statement was addressed to the Wagnerian soldiers of Prigozhin. Putin reiterated that they would be forgiven if they simply showed up at the Defense Ministry and enlisted in the Russian military, renouncing Prigozhin’s plot. What was left unsaid, of course, was that a few hours earlier Prigozhin had made a statement in which he indicated that the vast majority of his troops had no intention of doing so.

Putin’s call for the Wagnerians to effectively switch sides in the conflict, however, did not deliver the message of strength that Putin had no doubt hoped for.

It was weak. It was a plea. The fact that he had to go on air and essentially reiterate his request for withdrawal suggests that this particular crisis is far from over and that the Russian leader is far from certain how it will ultimately unfold.

That he came and went so quickly, that his statement did not live up to the advance billing, that he could not conclusively announce that the crisis was behind him were all factors that highlighted Putin’s newly revealed vulnerability. But perhaps most damning of all was the fact that in his attempt to reframe the vision of the past two days in Russia, he confirmed that his leadership had faced its most serious challenge in over a decade, perhaps -be never. He recognized that a small military force had turned against him and against the country and had triggered a serious crisis.

The mutiny in Russia is further proof that the world must get rid of nuclear weapons

Moreover, by doing so, he drew even more attention to Prigozhin and what he was doing. Prigozhin’s statement earlier today went to great lengths to say he was not looking to challenge Putin. He argued that a MoD decision to shut down the Wagner Group was the trigger for his actions and all he was looking for was to fix what he saw as betrayal by the top brass of the defense establishments. Russians.

But of course, Prigozhin had preceded his march on Moscow with public statements that Putin’s justification for attacking Ukraine was a lie. And the fact that his men were so unhappy that they were willing to risk an armed confrontation with the rest of the Russian military sent another clear message that the war in Ukraine is going very badly.

The failure of the Russian army to seriously challenge him as he and his forces seized the army’s southern command at Rostov-on-Don and then as they marched within 100 miles from Moscow, raised additional questions about the reasons.

Was the army divided? Were they growing fed up with the conduct of the disastrous war in Ukraine?

Finally, Putin’s reference to the deal that Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus helped broker sent another message: when challenged, Putin fought back or could not fight back with the force has been associated for a long time. He negotiates with subordinates marching on his capital.

24 hours of unrest: Putin collapses, his “leader” goes into exile

What did that mean for the other areas in which he was challenged? What did he say about those who claimed that Putin would never “negotiate” with regard to Ukraine?

Therefore, while Putin’s remarks lasted only a few minutes, his message was considerably longer. As he sought to impart strength, he showed a weakness that many of his people had never seen before.

Prigozhin may not have really grabbed the Russian capital. He may not have sought to attack Putin’s government. But he delivered a blow to the Russian leader and his government that was far more damaging, even if it was unintentional.

It destroyed their credibility. It hit the foundations of almost a quarter century of Putin’s rule in a way that left him cracked and vulnerable. Like Putin’s speech, it resolved nothing but rather posed new questions that will haunt Russia for the foreseeable future.

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