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[Reflections] Wagner's failed coup in Russia. Some elements

(B2) Everyone will have their own analysis of the events after Prigojine's failed coup and the pitiful withdrawal of Wagner's mercenaries without a fight. But we can ask a few things to think about.

First of all, the Russian power system is dysfunctional. For several months now, Russian President Vladimir Putin no longer seems to have all the power to impose all his will and discipline on his allies. Moscow's weak reaction to the announcement by the NATO Allies of equipping it with F-16 aircraft and to the holding of a European summit in Moldova a few km from the first Russian soldiers present in Transnistria proves a certain sluggishness of power compared to its virulence at the start of the offensive in February 2022. But the “ système has not yet found the suitable replacement. And, despite procrastination, all the armed and security forces remain faithful to the power of the Kremlin.

Then, Evgueni Prigozhin does not seem to have acted alone and in a " spontaneous ". He undoubtedly benefited from certain support, even within power, on the part of certain political leaders, even certain parts of the security services. But he certainly received neither the promised support nor the desired assurances. From there to think that some within the Russian military apparatus let him walk alone towards Moscow to better crush the one who acquired too much power, it is a hypothesis that cannot be ruled out. The regular army could regain control of Wagner's paramilitaries.

Finally, the possibility of a collapse of Russia that no leader wanted to consider until now is now clearly on the table. In the event of a notable defeat in Ukraine, or a deadly stalemate (1), it is not excluded that soldiers, exasperated by the weakness of the regime or the extent of the losses, allied with politicians, may want to take control country or send one of their own to do so. This time does not seem to have come.

On the European side, this hour is both feared and hoped for. Some countries fear a new disorder, with the risk of a possible absence from power, fatal for the control of nuclear weapons (2). Hence a phraseology on the need not to " humiliate Russia, which is no longer officially present but remains in everyone's mind from Washington to Berlin. Others want regime change in Russia and its neutralization alone able to put an end to a cycle of regular military interventions in the Russian neighborhood for sixty years. Point of view particularly present among the Balto-Polish.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

  1. It's a whole age group that is bearing the brunt of the offensive in Russia. The losses (deaths and serious injuries) - about a hundred thousand men - deprive not only the Russian army of part of its elite but also the Russian population of part of its active age group, a time when its demography is at half mast.
  2. Nuclear weapon which remains under close control of the Russian president, despite certain declarations.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).