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Russia. Wagner Group. OSW expert on Prigozhin: he cannot go unpunished, it can only be his physical liquidation

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The revolt of the Wagner Group mercenaries cannot go unpunished. The only way to wash away this disgrace a bit is to punish Yevgeny Prigozhin, and this form can only be his physical liquidation, said Marek Menkiszak, head of the team at the Russian Center for Eastern Studies, on TVN24. The expert assessed that “Prigozhin and the Wagnerians have become a formidable challenge for the Putin system”, and this system turned out to be lacking in “high self-defense capacity”.

On Saturday, mercenaries of the Wagner Group belonging to Yevgeny Prigozhin seized the headquarters of the Russian army in Rostov-on-Don, and then began to advance towards Moscow. Prigozhin has long been in conflict with the part of the Russian military establishment commanding the invasion of Ukraine. He demanded “the restoration of justice” in the army and the removal of the defense minister from power Sergey Shoigu. On Saturday evening, Prigozhin announced a retreat and the withdrawal of mercenaries to field camps to “avoid bloodshed”. This was supposed to be the result of negotiations between the Belarusian authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenko and Prigozhin, conducted in consultation with Putin.

Yevgeny Prigozhin Reuters

OSW expert: The Russian system does not have a high capacity for self-defense

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Russia it is not only at war with Ukraine, but it is at war with the entire West, primarily with the United States, and it treats what is happening in Ukraine as a key element of a wider war. There is an existential threat from the West to the Kremlin, said Marek Menkiszak, head of the team at the Russian Center for Eastern Studies, on TVN24, referring to Prigozhin’s rebellion.

As he added, “temporarily, Prigozhin and the Wagnerians have become a powerful challenge to the Putin system.” – We do not know exactly yet, it is difficult to say what will happen in the coming days, but we already know today that this test turned out poorly for this system, that this test showed that the system is not very strong, not very consolidated and that it does not have a large self-defense abilities. This is very worrying for the Kremlin, he said.

“It seems that Putin will try to increase discipline in this situation, and it will certainly increase the paranoia that Putin has had for a long time,” he said.

Wagner Group PAP/EPA

Menkiszak: Prigozhin pronounced a death sentence on himself

– With what he did, Prigozhin really gave himself a death sentence, because in the Russian system, such a totalitarian system, one cannot challenge oneself with impunity, even rhetorically. And Prigozhin turned his guns against the armed forces of the Russian Federation and declared political goals, demanding the resignation of the main members of the Russian authorities. (…) This cannot go unpunished. The only way to wash away the disgrace of Prigozhin’s rebellion is to punish him, and this form can only be his physical liquidation – said Marek Menkiszak.

The OSW expert noted that “Putin cannot afford to show weakness.” – It seems that these security guarantees are really illusory. It is only a matter of time before the Kremlin’s people will try to get Prigozhin,” he added.

– What is more important is what the consequences will be for the Russian elite and their perception of Putin. Here is the main problem for the authorities, namely this demonstration of weakness. On the one hand, it seems that Putin will intensify repressions, he will seek settlements with those who did not strongly support him at the time of the test (…), but on the other hand, their dissatisfaction with his rule will only strengthen. They may conclude that either a personnel change in the Kremlin or their personal security and well-being. This may lead to various tensions in this system, to its erosion, and at some point even to its collapse, he said.

Main photo source: PAP/Newscom

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