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Russian Insurrection: Addendum
It is possible that Putin’s government cannot survive in its current form
Yesterday Ad Astra published a piece on the Wagner rebellion in Russia. Upon further reflection I want to be more explicit about what history tells us and what the current situation implies. In both 1917 and 1991, it took two shocks to bring down Russia’s ruling regime. In 2023, Wagner proved that the Russian government can be existentially threatened by armed force not sanctioned by the state. Putin proved this by negotiating with Wagner, conceding to their demands, and granting immunity to people who committed treason and killed Russian troops. This is not over. Putin will need to crack down to stay in power and that suppression could lead to him losing popular support, up to loosing power.
It’s likely that troops perceived as loyal will be recalled from Ukraine to Moscow to protect the current government, with implications for the War in Ukraine. The Wagner boss Prighozin fled to Belarus but it’s unclear what the 25,000 Wagner mercenaries will do alongside sympathizers in the Russian military and public. There is also a warlord with a sizable militia in Chechnya that is currently allied with Putin but whose actions could be a wildcard. Former Soviet states like Azerbaijan also have forces. After yesterday, it has become clear that the Russian government no longer has the monopoly on violence. The decent of Russia into a Mad Max-style hellscape with feuding warlords is possible.
Without a severe crack down, Putin will not stay in power. Therefore, expect suppression and possible unrest.
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