Revolt is put an end by Prigozhin’s exile, but questions about Putin’s power remain

The rebellious mercenary commander who ordered his troops to march on Moscow abruptly reached a deal with the Kremlin to go into exile and sounded the retreat, ending the biggest challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power.

However, the brief uprising revealed weaknesses in the Russian government’s defences, allowing soldiers from the Wagner Group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, to advance unhindered into Rostov-on-Don and hundreds of kilometers towards Moscow.

Long-term repercussions for President Vladimir Putin’s rule and his involvement in the war in Ukraine are anticipated from the extraordinary challenge to his two-decade hold on power.

The Ukraine war, which has dragged on for 16 months and claimed a significant number of Russian troops, had already severely damaged Mr. Putin’s reputation as a tough leader.

Yevgeny Prigozhin’s former protege’s forces’ march towards Moscow on Saturday revealed more frailties, according to the analysis. Additionally, it meant that some of Mr. Prigozhin’s Wagner troops and the Chechen troops sent to stop them were removed from the Ukrainian battlefield where they had been fighting for Russia.

Mr. Prigozhin and his fighters appeared to seize control of the Russian military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don that supervise the fighting in Ukraine after urging an armed uprising to depose Russia’s defence minister.

They then made a largely unimpeded advance toward Moscow. They shot down several helicopters and military communications planes, according to Russian media. The Ministry of Defence has not responded.

Only an agreement to send Mr. Prigozhin to Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was able to stop them. According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the allegations against him of organizing an armed uprising will be dropped. Mr. Prigozhin then gave the order to send his troops back to their field camps. Additionally, the government declared that it would not prosecute Wagner fighters who participated, while the Defence Ministry would offer jobs to those who opted out.

Despite Mr. Putin’s earlier pledge to punish the perpetrators of the armed uprising, Mr. Peskov defended the change of heart by claiming that Mr. Putin’s “highest goal” was “to avoid bloodshed and internal confrontation with an unpredictable result.”

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