Prigogine de Wagner (left) stopped an armed rebellion against Putin’s army. Whats Next?
(CNN) — When the dates changed in Russia from the 23rd to the 24th and 25th of this month, it was as if the world held its breath and prepared for what would come next. And suddenly, things came to an end. But that’s how it is? In my opinion, that is not the case at all. A shocking announcement reveals that the head of Russia’s Wagner private military company, Evgeny Prigozhin, will end a seemingly inevitable confrontation with President Putin’s forces. Some have called the situation a coup or civil war, but the prospect of a bloody battle outside the Kremlin gates has been ruled out. Mr. Prigogine was turning his troops around. The advance on Moscow changed course towards Belarus, which appeared to be a place of exile. The immediate crisis has been contained, but the end result remains the same. It is a long-standing problem caused by Mr. Prigogine and Mr. Putin. Above all, many Russians had the belief that they had never spoken before. Despite people’s fear of having their voices heard, they believe that fundamentally the war in Ukraine is far from worth fighting or dying for. The little secret behind such disturbing content is now well known, if not entirely known. And just for that, the impact can be tremendous. The most pressing moment, perhaps divinely guided, began on the 23rd. In a stunning 30-minute video posted by Prigozhin, Prigozhin called the invasion of Ukraine a “vicious act” by a corrupt elite. He carefully avoided mentioning Putin directly. “The faction of oligarchs who rule Russia needed the war. Let it be, they will die under fire, but we will get what we want.” Mr. Prigogine argued so. Of course, this is not the first time that Prigogine has spoken so directly about the corruption of elites. In his opinion, this kind of corruption is undermining the Russian state and military. Last month, Prigozhin said in a sensational interview with pro-Russian blogger Konstantin Dolgov: “While the children of the elite smear themselves with cream and go online, the children of ordinary people are torn to pieces on the battlefield. Mothers mourn their children.” he didn’t fulfill his purpose at all. “If there were 500 Ukrainian tanks before, now there are 5,000. Where there were 20,000 experienced soldiers before, now there are 400,000.” I do not think. Now, in theory, it is outside of Putin’s legal system, but the power of mobile devices and laptops still has the potential to work. But perhaps even more important are the equally unspoken but mostly overt symptoms. One sign that has now happened is that the emperor is naked. I have to admit it. In fact, Putin was able to avoid violent confrontations. If that had happened, he might have lost his balance. However, he was forced to break a promise he made on national television. As Prigozhin’s troops march, Putin vows that those who follow the “path of treason” will be punished. “Those who prepare (as well as organize) a military resistance and turn their weapons against their comrades-in-arms have betrayed Russia and will be held accountable for it,” he said. In fact, it was not. The case was arguably his biggest and most direct challenge to the presidency. However, no definitive results have been obtained so far. Of course, there will be some things that won’t be clear for a while. First, Mr. Putin is not dealing with just Mr. Prigozhin, but with thousands of soldiers. They may be questioning themselves more than ever. Why are we fighting Putin’s war? Prigogine’s video on Wednesday, which he posted on his Telegram social media channel, was certainly widely viewed. Especially among the soldiers on the battlefield and among millions of people throughout Russia. His previous interviews, especially those with Mr. Dolgov, were followed in a similar way. In this situation, how will Putin and his generals convince the troops sent to Ukraine? How can they be convinced that the war they are waging is worth dying for? At least 10,000 Russian military personnel have so far called for voluntary surrender. Such requests have been sent to a hotline set up by the Ukrainian military since September last year. And there are few signs that Putin is going to abandon any of his generals anytime soon. Mr. Prigogine warns of his incompetence and defeat in the war. Long ago he had promised himself a swift and unscathed victory, but he had warned that he had not followed through on it. In this regard, Mr. Prigogine seems to be easily the winner. In fact, Prigozhin’s Wagner seems to be the only unit that has consistently won in the Ukraine of late. As he himself points out, it was the fighters under his command who seized control of Bahmut’s eastern throne after weeks of fruitless fighting. Beyond the battlefield, Putin could face other uncertainties. Now he is faced with a situation of his own making and apparently out of control. For years Putin has had to rely on Lukashenko, who has effectively been a do-it-yourselfer, to defuse a life-threatening situation. The move is sure to draw attention among Putin’s cronies who have long relied on him for support. Adding to the complication is the fact that Putin’s trusted spokesman Peskov was unable to tell reporters where Prigozhin was. Above all, what is happening on the ground essentially contradicts everything Putin has said so far. Russia has not won this war. Even if a year ago it would have ended in a matter of days or weeks. Ukraine will be further strengthened, which will stimulate an increase in military force. As Mr. Prigogine pointed out in the most direct way. And there are growing fears that Putin is no longer the unprecedented power. Over the past 20 years, he has established himself as a powerhouse. In fact, if he were to ask who has the most power, Putin might be the side that is losing its luster. “Sixteen months ago, Russian troops were at the gates of kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, thinking that they could take the city in a matter of days and wipe Ukraine off the map.” US Secretary of State Brinken said on CNN on Wednesday. “They are now being forced to focus on defending their capital, Moscow, against a mercenary force created by Putin himself. This raises a number of deep questions. The answers will be available in the coming days and weeks,” Brinken said. the focus was on Ukraine and how President Zelensky and his generals could make the most of this gift. This gift that Mr. Prigogine brought you all of a sudden. Could the answer be a powerful attack by the Ukrainian army? Could you answer the tough questions that Mr. Prigogine discovered over this crazy weekend? If so, perhaps we should step back and watch the power struggle unfold in the Kremlin. — David A. Andelman is a CNN contributor and two-time winner of the Deadline Club Award, which recognizes outstanding journalists. He is the author of the diplomatic strategy book A Red Line in the Sand and has worked as a correspondent for the New York Times and CBS News in Europe and Asia. The content of the article is his personal opinion.