Putin still firmly in the saddle?

After the aborted Wagner uprising on the weekend, the situation in Russia seems to have calmed down for the time being. Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has taken refuge in Belarus. The Russian president thanked the armed forces for saving the country from civil war. Europe’s press asks how deep the cracks in the Putin system run.

Novaya Gazeta Europe (RU) /

Telling silence

In Novaya Gazeta Europe, political scientist Konstantin Sonin analyses just how isolated Putin is based on the reactions during the uprising:

“For Putin, this day was particularly damaging to his reputation: there were no protests against this challenge to his power either in Rostov-on-Don, Voronezh or Moscow. For several hours after his morning address, there was not a word of support from other politicians — Moscow Mayor Sobyanin, Prime Minister Mishustin and Foreign Minister Lavrov even avoided cameras and microphones altogether. This pause clearly shows that Russia’s political elite is ready for a change of leadership — and what’s more, for a violent change.”

Konstantin Sonin
Milliyet (TR) /

Moscow’s elite no longer feels secure

Prigozhin has damaged Putin’s reputation of invincibility, Milliyet alleges in reference to information that for the moment has not been verified:

“He has succeeded in destroying the aura that is symbolic of Putin and stands for stability, with the help of which the president has been able to maintain his one-man rule. So much so that at the weekend Putin, Defence Minister Shoigu and Chief of General Staff Gerasimov, as well as key commanders and security and intelligence officials and also Moscow’s wealthy elite and oligarchs all flew the coop. There is talk of these people no longer seeing Putin as a ‘guarantor of the country’s stability’.”

Güneri Civaoğlu
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

Putin will draw his conclusions

Anyone who believes this is the beginning of the end of the Putin era may be sorely disappointed, warns the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

“Putin is someone who learns from crises. ... He has seen what can happen and will draw his conclusions from it. Who was loyal, who remained silent? Who will have to vacate their post? What mistakes did the secret service make? ... Either Putin’s opponents now feel emboldened or the crisis will make him more resistant to his enemies. What is certain to come is more repression. Too many ordinary people have shown sympathy for Prigozhin’s anger with Moscow. Putin learned how to react when the people rebel from another dictator who had already been prematurely pronounced dead: with violence.”

Silke Bigalke
The Irish Times (IE) /

A hint of 1917

There are certain parallels with Russia just before the end of tsarist rule, but they are limited, The Irish Times comments:

“A keen student of Russian history, Putin will recall with trepidation the dramatic collapse of army morale in February 1917 in the trenches of the first World War. Soldiers simply would not fight, and had similar grievances to Russian forces today: incompetent, indifferent officers and a high command willing to throw raw recruits into killing fields, supply chaos and brutal discipline. Yet, unlike 1917, Russian society is not at a tipping point. The balance of forces still favour Putin.”

Pravda (SK) /

The house of cards is wobbling

For Pravda, it is by no means clear what the future holds for Putin after last weekend:

“Putin has won nothing. On the contrary. ... In the future we may see that the current events were the beginning of his downfall. Putin’s regime is a house of cards built on the foundations of military invincibility and internal stability. The Ukrainian resistance has undermined the first pillar, Prigozhin the second. If tens of thousands of vagabonds can roam Russia without resistance, murder their own people and even emerge from this with public approval, then that is an invitation to come back and start over.”

Michal Horský
Alfa (LT) /

The worse things get, the better

The unrest in Russia is potentially good news, writes security specialist Edward Lucas on Alfa:

“The best hope for an early and favourable end to the war is that setbacks and upsets in Moscow reinforce each other. Disorder at home corrodes morale at the front. As desertion, mutiny and surrender increase, decision-makers flounder and the rot spreads. The chances of this may be slim but they have just improved. Seen that way, the worse things get in Russia, the better.”

Edward Lucas