Putin says he is concerned about potential threats the Wagner Group and Prigozhin could pose to him

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin made several significant symbolic gestures during his July 23 meeting with Alexander Lukashenko, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report.

Putin took Lukashenko to visit Kronstadt in St. Petersburg – the historically significant island fortress where Russian soldiers and sailors led a famously unsuccessful anti-Bolshevik uprising in early 1921 that the Soviet government eventually suppressed.

The meeting, according to the institute, suggested that Putin was “seeking to project power and confidence in his own supremacy” onto the faction aligned with Yevgeny Prigozhin and based in St. Petersburg.

Putin and Lukashenko visited Kronstadt with St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s younger daughter Ksenia.

“Both Beglov and Shoigu are personal enemies of Prigozhin, and Putin’s public meeting with Beglov, Shoigu’s daughter, and Lukashenko on the historic ground of the failed Kronstadt Rebellion was almost certainly intended to signal the defeat of Putin and his loyalist cadres to Prigozhin’s armed rebellion and St. Petersburg-based Prigozhin supporters,” the ISW said.

Experts noted that Putin also made an unusual effort to take photos with crowds of local Russian citizens, including children, while in Kronstadt, “likely to portray himself as a popular leader beloved by the Russian people.”

“These symbolic gestures indicate that Putin is concerned about his perceived popularity, the security of his regime, and the range of factions competing for power within the upper reaches of Russian governance,” the ISW concluded.

Explosions reported in Moscow, mayor claims drone attack

The Russian Defense Ministry reported on its Telegram channel that two drones hit central Moscow in the early hours of July 24. Fragments of a drone were later found about two kilometers from the main building of the Russian Defense Ministry.

Kyiv IndependentOlena Goncharova

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