Putin end is here-Kyiv officials

Putin end is here-Kyiv officials

4 minutes, 26 seconds Read

Putin end is here-Kyiv officials


Putin end is here-Kyiv officials. The Wagner Group’s mutiny, its leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the implications for Vladimir Putin and the conduct of the war in Ukraine have dominated headlines in Kiev.

The border drama in Russia has hardened Kyiv’s perception that Mr Putin’s tenure as Russia’s president is coming to an end.

“I believe the countdown has begun,” said Andriy Yermak, President Zelensky’s chief of staff.

During a briefing in Kyiv, Putin reflected on the year Russia initially invaded Ukraine and annexed the Crimean Peninsula.

“What Ukraine has seen since 2014 has become evident for the entire world,” Mr Yermak said.

“This [Russia] is a terrorist country whose leader is an inept individual who has lost touch with reality.” The world must decide that any serious partnership with that country is impossible.”

Senior Ukrainian officials interviewed by the BBC in Kyiv unanimously felt that President Putin would not be able to withstand a catastrophic loss of authority.

They claimed it began with his foolish decision to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February of last year. The Wagner mutiny and Mr. Prigozhin’s criticism of the Kremlin’s rationale for the war, they claim, have eliminated Mr. Putin’s chances of surviving.

“The Putin regime cannot be saved,” one of them insisted.

It is vital to remember that anything Ukrainians, especially the ones running the country, say about their Russian enemies comes in the heat of a fight that they see, correctly, as a struggle for national survival.

The Ukrainians have waged a deft media campaign, and their statements to their own people, Western allies, and adversaries in Moscow have been astonishingly consistent.

Wishful thinking must be present in their judgements shared with journalists.

However, it is still worthwhile to listen to their perspectives on the catastrophe that has overtaken their mortal opponent Vladimir Putin’s leadership.

Without a question, he is facing the most serious challenge to his authority since taking office in 2000.

Other senior officials in Kiev are concerned that Mr Putin is being resisted by an informal but well-organized network of disgruntled insiders.

The secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, told the BBC in his office, “Prigozhin is not the most senior. They may emerge as the next political elite.”

Mr Danilov said they comprised security troops, bureaucrats, and oligarchs who feel Mr Putin’s decision to start a full-fledged invasion of Ukraine in February last year was a personal disaster for them as well as a threat to Russia.

When I asked Mr Danilov, a guy in his early sixties dressed in a black military-style gear with his surname on a badge on his chest, if he had documentation to back up his analysis, he bristled for a moment.

“I’m not speculating,” he said emphatically. “We know who these people are, and we know about their lives.”

Another close aide to President Zelensky, Mykhailo Podolyak, concurred that “several groups of people want to take power in Russia.”

Mr Putin’s top-down and dictatorial regime, he asserted, was being replaced by a near-vacuum at the center of authority.

Another senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, went even farther, implying that President Putin might be obliged to fire Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov, possibly in response to another military loss.

Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner mutineers made firing the two guys a top priority.

“Prigozhin will get what he wanted,” said the official. “His political career is not over.” He will not remain in exile in Belarus.”

Concerning Ukraine’s offensive, Mr. Podolyak stated that the Wagner mutiny did not endure long enough to influence the combat along a 1,800-kilometer front, the longest in any war since 1945.

Even the most objective viewer of the battle can see that Ukraine is having to fight hard and lose troops and equipment, including Nato-supplied armor.

When I asked the official, who preferred anonymity, about recent tactical advances in the east, which included a handful of tiny villages, he lifted his hand, his finger and thumb squeezing the air about half an inch apart.

His message was that development had been slow, unpleasant, and limited, but that he hoped that would improve.

Senior Ukrainian officials are still working hard to keep expectations about the summer offensive in check. They feel that some of its Western partners, as well as media backers, have gotten overly enthusiastic about Ukraine’s army and Nato supplies.

Some Ukrainian officials acknowledged the fear that gives Western leaders sleepless nights, that a public collapse of President Putin’s regime might lead to real danger as his would-be successors jockey for power in a state with the world’s biggest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

That prospect is sure to be high on the agenda of the Nato summit, due to meet in Lithuania next month.

President Zelensky and his aides hope that the meeting would provide them with a clear and unambiguous road to Nato membership. They feel that the best way to deal with Russia’s instability is to present Moscow with an iron wall.

However, the uncertainty surrounding President Putin and his government, about a year and a half into a disastrous war and following the Wagner drama, may exacerbate the fear of Nato members who would prefer the war to conclude at the negotiating table rather than on the battlefield.


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