Vladimir Putin, Obukhov State Plant
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo credit: President of the Russia / Wikimedia (CC BY 4.0)

In Russia’s long and tumultuous history, there has never been a 24-hour period like the one that is coming to an end now.

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In Russia’s long and tumultuous history, there has never been a 24-hour period like the one that is coming to an end now.

It all began on Friday, when the Wagner mercenary group made a move on Russia’s top military brass. Initially, there was no word of this conflict devolving into a coup. That changed, however, when Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that the uprising amounted to an “armed mutiny” and called it “treason.”

That did not sit well with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner. The group responded by saying that the Russian president “made the wrong choice. All the worse for him. Soon we will have a new president.”

Soon thereafter, Wagner troops appeared to head for Moscow, which braced for violence as the world began talking about a coup in progress. However, and that is key to what transpired later, the various acts of aggression had not led to bloodshed.

Still, at that time, an intelligence update from the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence from earlier that day certainly rang true.

“Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out,” the intelligence assessment said. “This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times.”

By the end of the day, it seemed as though Putin had weathered the storm and Russia had passed this test after an accord was brokered between the Russian president and Prigozhin.

According to the deal, the Wagner chief will move to Belarus, and any charges against him will be dropped. In addition, his mercenaries will also not face any punishment and can continue fighting for Russia.

While this truce seems like a win for Putin, it remains to be seen whether it holds and whether there will be any lingering tensions between the mercenaries and regular Russian troops.

For example, it is conceivable that Prigozhin will fall down an elevator shaft in Minsk at some point or come down with a case of polonium poisoning.

But for now, a situation that seemed intractable just a few hours ago has been diffused — much to the dismay of Ukraine.

For 24 hours, the country, which has been fighting back Russian invaders for more than a year now, had hoped that an uprising against Putin would allow Ukrainian forces to make gains in the east and south of their country.

That may still happen, although it remains to be seen how much the events of the past day will affect the Russian war machine.

One thing seems certain. For at least one night, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy slept better and more peacefully than his Russian counterpart.

And who knows what tomorrow holds in store?


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