Who would have thought one day that the power of Vladimir Putin would be threatened? We thought that Putin would be in power until he passed away. But the Wagner Group decided it had enough of Vladimir Putin. Indeed, tensions between Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia’s Wagner Group, a private militia group, and the nation’s defense establishment exploded dramatically last Friday.
The Russian leader has accused Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin of treason, embarking on an armed rebellion and a “stab in the back of our country.” He vowed to crush an armed insurrection and labeled the first coup attempt in three decades as a “deadly threat to our statehood.” For the Wagner Group’s boss, on the other hand, the military coup isn’t a military coup but a march for justice. According to the Japan Times, this domestic conflict is the biggest test of President Vladimir Putin’s authority since he sent troops into Ukraine sixteen months ago.
Prigozhin’s idea of a “march for justice” has been vague, but his row with the military leadership has clearly escalated so fast that he wants to force them out. Prizoghin has long been a close ally of President Putin and has flourished under him, first as a wealthy businessman and then as mercenary chief. Prizoghin has accused the Russian military of a deadly missile strike on his troops, allegedly killing dozens.
This coup attempt or military insurrection is weakening Putin’s power. Indeed, the prolonging of the war in Ukraine has led the world to question Putin’s military abilities and leadership. When the war started last February 2022, we all thought that the invasion of Ukraine would be a matter of weeks before the Ukrainian military capitulates since Russia’s military artillery is obviously far superior to Ukraine’s. But the resilience of the Ukrainian military, supported unilaterally by the United States, has made the war for Russia more difficult to win than expected. And now the military coup attempt forces Putin to fight on two fronts.
The international community, for now, is watching and waiting. A spokesman for the European Union said the matter was “an internal Russia issue” that’s being carefully monitored. U.S. President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation while the two members of the Senate Intelligence said, “We are closely monitoring what appears to be a significance internal conflict among Russian forces.”
Furthermore, this military insurrection will create a dilemma for China. On the military aspect, this creates an opportunity for China to take the lead over Russia since Putin’s power is currently under threat. Economically, however, it puts China in a difficult position regarding its oil demand from Russia. Russia is one of the leading oil suppliers to China. And this military coup attempt will lead to a surge in oil prices, but this surge will be temporary. At the end of the day, everything depends on how long this military insurrection will keep on going. Thus, oil demand from China might decline in the short-term.
What would Russia look like if Putin were deposed? Will the Russian military influence remain as terrifying as it has always been? Time will tell. Is this military insurrection the beginning of the end of Russia’s influence in the world?