Russian President Vladimir Putin’s response to the aborted-mutiny led by Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin was “weak” and showed that he was losing control of his own people, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“We see Putin’s reaction. It’s weak,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with CNN released on Monday.
Prigozhin started a brief revolt last week which swiftly ended with him calling off his Wagner forces’ march on Moscow after agreeing to a deal which would see him exiled in Belarus without any legal action taken against him in Russia. He said in his first remarks since the aborted revolt that the march was a “demonstration” not an attempted coup.
Prigozhin’s mutiny had a resounding impact within Russia and internationally as well. The general consensus amongst international politicians and analysts is that the mutiny had weakened Putin and raised questions about his ruling with an iron fist at a critical time when his forces confront an intense counter-offensive in Ukraine.
Zelenskyy said: “Firstly, we see he doesn’t control everything. Wagner’s moving deep into Russia and taking certain regions shows how easy it is to do. Putin doesn’t control the situation in the regions.”
He added: “All that vertical of power he used to have is just crumbling down.” The Ukrainian president said that his country’s intelligence reports showed the Kremlin was measuring support for Prigozhin, and he claimed that half of Russia supported the Wagner boss and his mercenary group’s mutiny.
In the wake of Prigozhin’s brief revolt, Russian leadership swiftly moved to project a semblance of stability, calm, and control. Putin had stressed in an address to the nation the importance of unity and patriotism in the face of enemy attempts to destabilize the country and fracture its society.
Overall, top Russian leadership used every instrument in their toolbox to create an image of unyielding authority, promote national unity, and to affirm their control over the country's security apparatus.