Okay, Putin can breathe…for now. Mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin announced this morning that he would not withdraw his troops who are trying unsuccessfully to conquer the city of Bakhmout, Ukraine. The Kremlin promised him the ammunition he was asking for, otherwise he threatened to order them to drop out.
Some 20,000 of his men, mostly recruited from Russian prisons, were killed in the months-long battle.
In a particularly violent, insulting and repugnant video, he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov of being responsible for the losses of the Wagner Group. He let out his vociferations and imprecations as he moved through a pile of bloody corpses of his fighters: “Shoigu! Gerasimov! Where are my fucking shells?!”
It’s still extraordinary that a group of mercenaries spearheads Putin’s army in Ukraine. The Pentagon estimates its losses at some 200,000 killed and injured since the start of the conflict last year. She is bloodless, it is the case to say it.
That neither Putin nor his military leaders have yet gotten rid of Prigozhin speaks volumes about the state of disrepair of what was once one of the strongest armies on the planet.
Putin is in his little shoes
This week, during the “victory parade” in Red Square celebrating the Soviet victory against the Nazis in 1945, how will he justify his “special operation” in Ukraine? How will he explain the dismal failure of his army?
And he faces increasingly threatening domestic opposition. Last week, two drones were shot down while already hovering over the Kremlin. Of course, Putin's spokesman accused the Ukrainians, Americans and British of trying to assassinate him, when they were most likely Russian opponents.
D Elsewhere, the Russian Foreign Ministry has acknowledged that terrorist activities, including railway derailments, are taking on an unprecedented scale, attributing them, of course, to Ukrainians.
The writer Zakhar Prilepin, a fanatic supporter of Putin and his attack on Ukraine, was seriously injured yesterday in the explosion of his Audi Q7 which killed his driver. Two other pro-Putin influencers have been murdered in recent months, Daria Douguina, the daughter of an ultranationalist ideologue, died in the explosion of the car she was driving, and Vladlen Tatarskii was killed in a café in Saint- Petersburg.
It will be decided this summer
Putin's fate may be decided by the end of the summer. It will depend on the ability of the Russian army to repel the major offensive that Ukrainian President Zelensky is about to launch to drive it out of its territory. A catastrophic military rout could cause major unrest in Russia, threatening the regime.
Would Putin, as a last resort, consider the use of tactical nuclear weapons, as he has already threatened to do? But, dizzy, he too could fall out of a window.