Vladimir Putin Made His Own Worst Nightmare

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Fifteen months ago, Vladimir Putin’s army was on the outskirts of Kiev. Now, the Russian leader is struggling to maintain control in Moscow.

The Wagner’s revolt, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, is the ultimate confirmation of how catastrophically wrong the war in Ukraine has been for Putin. Even if the Russian leader prevails in the immediate battle with Wagner, it is hard to believe that Putin can ultimately survive this kind of humiliation. His prestige, his power, even his life, is now at stake.

The historical irony is that it was Putin’s actions that led to what he feared most: an uprising that threatened both the Russian state and his own personal power.

Putin’s fear of a “color revolution” in Russia dates back almost 20 years. Fittingly, its origins lie in Ukraine. The Orange Revolution of 2004 — a popular, democratic uprising against a rigged election in Ukraine — sparked paranoia among the Russian president and has steadily increased over the years.

Since then, Putin has been haunted by two interconnected fears. First, Ukraine will be permanently out of Russia’s control. Second, a successful pro-democracy uprising in Kiev would be a dry race for the same in Moscow.

His decision to invade Ukraine in 2022 is an attempt to finally quell both dangers — by establishing an authoritarian, pro-Russian government in Kyiv.

As one former intelligence officer and conspiracy theoristPutin firmly believes that the source of any “color revolution” — whether in Ukraine or Russia — lies in Washington. His refusal to believe that the Ukrainians could have authority or power led him to underestimate the strength of resistance against the Russian invasion.

Along with underestimating Ukraine’s power, Putin – reveling in the mythology of the Red Army of the 1940s – overestimated Russia’s own military might. The defeat of the Russian army opened the door for the Wagner group to enter the war. This gave Prigozhin his own power base and propaganda platform and ultimately enabled him to oppose the Russian state.

Putin has always told the Russian people that he rescued the country from the turmoil of the 1990s. But what is happening now is reminiscent of the failed coup by the military and the hardline against Mikhail. Gorbachev in 1991, when Boris Yeltsin rode a tank outside parliament. At that time, the people of Moscow played an important role in the unfolding events. The reaction of the Russian people to the uprising in Prigozhin will be an important – and still unknown – part of this story.

in him My own first comment On the Prigozhin uprising, Putin looks back to an even darker precedent: the alleged “stab in the back” that ended the Russian war effort in 1917 and plunged the country into revolution and civil war. . These words are meant to convey firmness of purpose. But they are hardly assured.

Wagner’s uprising will give hope to opponents of the Putin regime — both inside and outside Russia. For the Ukrainian military, which failed to counterattack, this seemed like a historic opportunity. If Russian forces turn against each other, or retreat from the front lines to protect Putin, they could concentrate in eastern Ukraine.

Political prisoners in Russia, like Alexei Navalny or Vladimir Kara-Murza, must also have a new hope and opportunity. They may also play a role in the coming months.

Prigozhin, of course, is not a free man. His rhetoric is nationalism and imperialism. The Wagner Force is known for its brutality. But Prigozhin – like Putin – has now unleashed forces he will struggle to control.

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