Ukraine war

US officials see weakened Putin as Russia tumult reveals ‘cracks’

Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims that Russian ally China supports Moscow in "protecting national stability" and that the unprecedented challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin by the Wagner Group fighters has revealed "cracks" in the strength of his leadership that may take weeks or months to play out.

Blinken and members of the US Congress claimed in a series of television interviews that the unrest in Russia on Saturday has made Putin more vulnerable in ways that could help Ukraine's counteroffensive against Russian forces on its soil while also helping Russia's neighbors, including Poland and the Baltic states.

Blinken stated on ABC's This Week news program that he didn't believe the aborted mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group, was the "final act."

According to Blinken, the tensions that led to the action had been building for months, and he added that the possibility of an "internal matter" could have an impact on Moscow's military prowess in Ukraine.

"The Russian facade is starting to crack more. It is still too early to predict their exact route and arrival time. In the coming weeks and months, Putin will undoubtedly need to respond to a number of new questions, Blinken said.

US government officials anticipate finding out more information about what happened in Russia soon, including specifics about the agreement with Prigozhin that was mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and resulted in Wagner fighters returning to their bases.

In Russia's 16-month war in Ukraine, Prigozhin's forces, led by a former Putin ally and ex-convict, have engaged in some of the bloodiest combat.

China, which has remained close to Putin ever since the Ukraine operation began, referred to the uprising as an "internal affair" and expressed support for Putin's administration.

This occurred after Sunday's meeting in Beijing between China's Qin Gang and Russia's Andrey Rudenko, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia.

Russians are still supporting Putin because "he controlled the situation," but many acknowledge that the mutiny has hurt President Putin's reputation, according to Yulia Shapovalova of Al Jazeera.

"Others say that Prigozhin is obviously a player in Vladimir Putin's political system and all he has - the funds, human resources, all the weapons - all that comes from the state and he totally depends on Vladimir Putin, despite his rivalry with the Ministry of Defence," Shapovalova reported from Moscow.

‘Distracted and divided’

The White House, the Pentagon, and Capitol Hill officials were briefed about the possibility of unrest a full day before Prigozhin made his move against the Russian military leadership, according to The Washington Post and New York Times. US intelligence agencies reportedly discovered signs that Prigozhin was preparing his troops to mutiny days earlier.

Chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Mike Turner claimed that Prigozhin's claim that the justification for the invasion of Ukraine was based on lies might prevent Putin from taking further action in that country.

Turner stated on CBS's Face the Nation program that "removing the very premise makes it much more difficult for Putin to continue to turn to the Russian people and say We should continue to send people to die."

The unrest, according to former US European Command commander and retired US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, shows a decline in Russian capabilities.

In an interview, Breedlove stated, "I believe one of the outcomes of the last 36, maybe 48 hours is that the institutions that we have long seen as being very secure in Russia are slowly unraveling." The Russian military's overall institution and outward appearance have significantly changed.

The weekend unrest in Russia, according to US Senator Ben Cardin, does not lessen the need for Washington to continue supporting Ukraine as it launches its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia.

"Ukraine is facing a critical period. Cardin, a Democrat who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Fox News that this counteroffensive will determine where we are in the next year or two.

The weekend's unrest was also discussed in a "positive and inspiring" phone call between US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who claimed that Putin's rule had been exposed as being weak.

Zelenskyy demanded that Russia be put under pressure globally in a statement, adding that he and Biden had also talked about further enhancing defense cooperation with a focus on long-range weapons.

Zelenskyy and Biden, according to a statement from the White House, spoke about Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive.

"President Biden reaffirmed unwavering US support, including through continued security, economic, and humanitarian aid," the statement read.

Publish : 2023-06-26 08:48:00

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