Tags: russia | vladimir putin | wagner group | yevgeny prigozhin | war | coup

Coup Attempt Threatens Putin Regime's Survival: Expert

By    |   Wednesday, 28 June 2023 07:48 AM EDT

The ongoing developments inside Russia last weekend have raised questions over the survival of the Vladimir Putin regime and whether "Putin's Chef" Yevgeny Prigozhin will be successful in toppling his onetime boss' government through his mercenary force known as the Wagner Group.

Dr. Sean McFate is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council and a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

He spoke to Newsmax to analyze the Wagner Group and the alleged coup attempt against Putin.

"There was some sort of deal struck over the weekend between Putin and Prigozhin that is a band-aid fix which is not a durable fix," McFate said. "It's where they are walking back from the edge, but it's a Potemkin village."

The famous idiom comes from the story of Grigory Potemkin, who created a facade of a village that could be disassembled and moved across Catherine the Great's tour of Crimea in 1787.

"There's a lot internally to understand because Prigozhin has been growing increasingly critical and bellicose," said McFate, "But I don't know if there was a triggering point that happened on Friday, like if [Chief of the General Staff] Valery Gerasimov or Putin told him to do something that would have forced his hand."

"There's tons of speculation and it's the Cold War mentality where we have Kremlinologists [experts in who claim that they are able to read the mind of the Premier/Putin and predict his actions]."

McFate believes "Putin's control is brittle, and the U.S. strategy in arming Ukraine to turn it into the Soviet-Afghan War that shook the [Soviet] regime is working to some extent. It also shows that Putin is much more vulnerable than the facade that he projects, that this is a deeply unpopular war in Russia, that the generals may be loyal to Putin, but the rank-and-file are not."

He underscored that "the rank-and-file are conscripts and are not much better than the Wagner Group mercenaries, that they are cannon fodder, and it is a useless fight, kind of like Verdun or Stalingrad."

McFate also highlighted the fact "that Prigozhin marched on Moscow and could have made it [without resistance] had there not been this last-minute intervention by Putin. It shows that he has a slippery control of the military and lost control of the Wagner Group, and now he is in domestic peril."

If Putin grants Prigozhin and the Wagner Group general amnesty, he predicted, "then the Siloviki [Russians who serve in the military and employ force against fellow citizens] may march on him and it will potentially spark a civil war amidst a war with Ukraine. Prigozhin himself is very ambitious and is like a pretender emperor in Rome who has an army marching on his back."

"Who is going to kill who first is an open question, and I don't know if it is going to be Putin," he added.

McFate was critical of current U.S. policy, noting, "It has been a failure of U.S. strategy to not have a wedge strategy, but Russia not only needs ammunition at this point and Putin needs to be seen as a global leader. China's relationship with Russia has waxed and waned over the past year and a half, and I don't expect China to get involved at all in the conflict."

He believes China looks down on Russia and views them as a "junior partner."

"Getting more weapons won't change the potential civil war on Putin's hands," McFate continued. "When you look at the foreign investment in Ukraine, China was number one for a long time."

The scholar recommended that "the way we win in Ukraine is by getting the Wagner Group to turn on the Russian military. In private warfare, the mercenary is the second oldest profession, but our generals and their generals are clueless because they forgot about that world."

"Mercenaries are always viewed as Bond-style villains, but they are extremely dangerous. Safety, accountability, and control are the watchwords for mercenary warfare."

McFate likened Prigozhin to Albrecht von Wallenstein, who was employed by Emperor Ferdinand II to create private armies to fight the Protestants during the Thirty Years War.

"Wallenstein got so powerful that Emperor Ferdinand had him killed in his sleep," he said.

McFate stressed the nature of unpredictability that surrounds Prigozhin's strategy, speculating, "It's possible that Prigozhin and Zelenskyy are making a deal right now, and you can't really control mercenaries. Their leaders can be political and an x-factor in international relations. They also don't want to work themselves out of a job, because a world awash with mercenaries is a world awash with war, because they prolong conflict."

"Putin's ambition is to become the new Czar, but you can't become a Czar without Ukraine," McFate noted. "He can't leave because if he says, 'We achieved victory in some mock battle,' I don't think anyone will buy it. He needs the Wagner Group on his side, and he can't integrate them into the army because they hate each other.

"The one way is to make Prigozhin an honorary general, which makes the siloviki puke," McFate added.

The possibility of Putin fleeing power in a midnight abdication would also be problematic.

"If he exits, then there can be a vacuum that can lead to a civil war — suddenly," said McFate. "Because Russia has nuclear weapons, it makes it everyone's concern.

"Putin has to change his strategy because he has pursued the same failing strategy — the definition of insanity — that led to the mutiny. It will be hard for him to draw it down because NATO will rub his nose in it, and if he escalates, then it's a brave new world beyond mercenary rebellion."

In comparing Putin and Prigozhin, McFate said, "The fact that he marched on Moscow to directly challenge Putin's authority in an international setting — you can't say 'nothing to see here' or 'these aren't the droids you're looking for.'

"We are at the most dangerous part in the war now, and it's up to how Prigozhin or the other actors under the table who want to work something out. I don't think Prigozhin will walk [his words and actions] back. I can see where Putin gives him a seat like Gerasimov's and maybe he's allowed to clean some house.

"This all stems from Putin's management strategy, which is Josef Stalin's strategy to play people off for his advantage," McFate added.

The next chapter of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Vladimir Putin's government, and Prigozhin's mercenaries have yet to be written, but they all will be written in the same red ink on the scroll of history.

Michael Cozzi is a graduate of Catholic University Law School in Washington, D.C.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The developments inside Russia have raised questions over the survival of the Vladimir Putin regime and whether "Putin's Chef" Yevgeny Prigozhin will be successful in toppling his onetime boss' government through his mercenary force known as the Wagner Group.
russia, vladimir putin, wagner group, yevgeny prigozhin, war, coup
Wednesday, 28 June 2023 07:48 AM
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