While the effort by The Wagner PMCs founder, Prigozhin, to march on Moscow has ended, the subsequent shockwaves are still reverberating inside Russia, with some experts, speaking to the Kyiv Post, saying that it could lead to the end of the Putin Regime.
Mark N. Katz, a professor of international relations at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia told the Kyiv Post that, “the Prigozhin adventure has definitely rattled the Kremlin. Putin had built Prigozhin up as a rival to the Defense Ministry and seemed to relish Prigozhin's criticisms of the generals. I don't think Putin expected anything like this from him, or that the regular armed forces would do so little to stop him.”
If “a guy with as many enemies as Prigozhin could get as far as he did, Putin must wonder what a general with a lot of strong contacts with the [Ministry of Defense] could do,” proffered Katz.
The situation is so bad in Russia that former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, while speaking in the British Parliament, last week, said that London needs a strategy in the event that Russia suddenly implodes.
Truss emphasized that the UK and “our allies - including the Ukrainians, including the Poles, including the Baltic states - need to make sure that we have a plan in the case of the implosion of Russia,” according to the BBC.
But does Putin himself think that the situation is grave?
Eric Shiraev, a political psychologist who has studied Russian political leaders says that Putin may not have the full picture as to how bad the situation is as, “after 23 years in power, [Putin] has an increasingly limited access to information, for he gets what he wants to hear."
He adds: "He does not want to hear bad news (and his associates know this too). This is a problem with all world leaders, yet in democracies the availability of information is much greater, compared to autocracies.”
Former Russian intelligence officer Igor Girkin (Strelkov), who helped invade Ukraine in 2014 said that Putin's reaction to the Prigozhin challenge to his presidency was so poorly executed that “another rebellion is not far off. We only need to wait for another defeat at the front and the rebellion will begin.”
Girkin noted: “It does not matter who starts the revolt - now no one will resist against the Rebellion. Nobody at all,” adding: “It makes no sense risking your life defending such a useless and miserable government.”
Recent statements by Putin about the Russian Army's successes in the war were said to have shocked some Russian military bloggers who detected that the alleged “accomplishments” did not match-up with what they had seen on the battlefield.
Prigozhin himself had denied Moscow's earlier claims that Leopard tanks had been “destroyed or captured,” saying that it was simply not true.
Despite a widening circle of Russians who understand that Russia has not had some of the successes it has claimed publicly, on Monday, Minister of Defense Shoigu stated that Russia had destroyed 16 Leopard Tanks, or “100% of those donated by Poland and Portugal,” a fact that has been ridiculed by pro-Ukrainian and Western news sources.
Shiraev sees the inner-sanctum of Putin's world now, understanding that “the end of the road” is approaching and is preparing for how they and their families will escape, whereas others in Putin's orbit “are in a state of denial.”
So why would Putin continue to believe these fantasies? Shiraev speculates: “Putin's mind resembles a powerful delusion. The problem with delusions is that the patients strongly deny that they have a delusion.
He adds: "People with emotional problems clearly understand that they have a problem.”
So, how does this all play-out?
Katz says: “It is now more likely that ‘something momentous’ could happen in Russia. I think that the most likely scenario is that soldiers stop fighting, as in the First World War.”
He concudes that this is something which “could precipitate a coup (if Putin has flown the coop first).”
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