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Backlash: Russia’s Putin is weakened after direct armed rebellion -US officials

US President Joe Biden (l) and Vladimir Putin, Russian President

*United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the armed insurrection over the weekend by mercenary Russian Wagner Group forces indicates ‘cracks in the facade’ of President Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian leadership

*Why Putin backs down from ordering a military strike on Yevgeny Prigozhin or imprisoning him -Intelligence Experts

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

In a rare show of bipartisan agreement, the United States (US) officials and lawmakers from both parties Sunday, June 25, 2023, declared the ‘brief rebellion’ against Russia’s defence officials by a Russian mercenary group had weakened Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The US officials submitted the internal armed rebellion at the weekend, in Russia, had further strengthened the United States’ resolve to continue supporting Ukraine in the Russian invasion cum war.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the insurrection over the weekend by mercenary Wagner Group forces — as well as how it was ultimately resolved — showed “cracks in the facade” of Putin’s authoritarian leadership.

The US Secretary of State, who spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, said: “What we’ve seen is extraordinary. “Think about it this way: 16 months ago Russian forces were on the doorstep of Kyiv in Ukraine, believing they would take the capital in a matter of days and erase the country from the map as an independent country.

“Now, what we’ve seen is Russia having to defend Moscow, its capital, against mercenaries of his own making.”

Wagner Group soldiers, overnight last Saturday, had marched within about 120 miles of Moscow targeting key export hubs, before abruptly turning around as part of a brokered deal with the Russian Government.

No more criminal charges against Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin: Kremlin

Meanwhile, the Kremlin Spokesperson has said the criminal charges previously preferred against Wagner’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, would be dropped.

President Biden has not tried to contact Putin since Saturday’s unrest, but he has convened his national security advisers and key allies, Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week.”

The United States will watch internal divisions between Putin and other Russians closely to determine how much control he retains domestically and over the war in Ukraine, Blinken added.

The Biden administration’s reaction to the insurrection has been somewhat measured and low key, agency report noted.

US’ focus amid confusing atmosphere in Russia, by Blinken

The US intelligence has picked up indications that Prigozhin was planning armed action against the Russian defence establishment; a rivalry between the two groups had been simmering for months, The Washington Post report stated.

However, the US Sunday focused on supporting Ukraine’s continued efforts at pushing Russian forces out of its territory.

Blinken further said: “Our focus has to be and remains resolutely on Ukraine,”  “There is absolute unity, both of purpose and in action, in terms of supporting Ukraine, making sure they have what they need to defend themselves. And that’s where our focus is; that’s where the president’s focus has been.”

The US Secretary of State as well hinted that Prigozhin is “in many ways a creation of Putin.”

Blinker disclosed the Wagner Group forces have been responsible for horrible atrocities against Ukrainian civilians, and noting that the mercenary group is in Africa as well.

Western officials and intelligence analysts are still struggling to interpret the bizarre sequence of events, according to report.

Among the questions they faced was why Putin backed down from ordering a military strike on Prigozhin or imprisoning him.

“The big unanswered question is: Would Putin have been able to order a lethal airstrike?”

Bob Seely, a member of Britain’s Parliament, who serves on the foreign affairs committee, which has been investigating Prigozhin’s Wagner Group for two years, said in an interview with The Post. “Could Putin have actually killed Prigozhin en route, or was it so bad for Putin that he couldn’t,” meaning that his grip on power was too tenuous.

Seely added that he thinks the era of private military companies for Russia will be coming to an end. “They will be put under much closer control.”

The Wagner Group chief was also diminished by his about-face on Saturday, retired Gen. David Petraeus, who was also CIA director, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“Prigozhin kept his life, but lost his Wagner Group. And he should be very careful around open windows in his new surroundings in Belarus, where he’s going,” Petraeus said, alluding to the tendency for Putin’s critics to die in violent or mysterious ways.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers said the mutiny showed the United States’ strategy in Ukraine — and its continued assistance to the country, which has been under Russian attack since 2014 — is working.

“Vladimir Putin has bitten off a lot more than he ever thought possible when he marched into Ukraine,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Rep. Don Bacon (R-Neb.), a former Air Force general in Europe and member of the House Armed Services Committee, urged his fellow Republicans to continue providing Ukraine with military hardware.

Bacon called US aid to Ukraine a worthy investment, noting that the United States has diminished Russia’s military by 50 percent by spending the equivalent of five percent of the Pentagon budget to help Ukraine.

“What we saw this weekend was how fragile Putin’s leadership is right now, how fragile the Russian military is,” Bacon said.

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