The New StatesmanThe New Statesman

Worse could follow Putin

28 Jun 2023 · 3 min read

informed Summary

  1. The most serious challenge to Vladimir Putin’s rule is likely to come from those who believe his war against Ukraine has been insufficiently ruthless, The New Statesman argues.

For 36 hours, Vladimir Putin confronted an armed challenge to his rule. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the thuggish former convict and leader of the Wagner mercenary group, seized the southern military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don and embarked on a “march of justice” to overthrow the military leadership in Moscow. His fighters came within 200km of the Russian capital before turning around.

Precisely what Prigozhin planned to do when they got there was never clear. He claimed to have 25,000 men under arms, but the real figure was likely less than half of that. The most optimistic estimates put the number of troops bearing down on Moscow at a few thousand, without heavy artillery or air support. In a best-case scenario, Prigozhin could have hoped to emulate Napoleon, who marched his army into the Kremlin in 1812 before being forced into an ignominious retreat that resulted in his exile. (Prigozhin appears to have succeeded in achieving the last part.)

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