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EU urges caution as mercenary revolt raises doubts on Putin's grip on Power

This came after incident raised troubling questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin's grip on power and whether Wagner group fighters might install themselves just over the border in Belarus

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, President, Russia

AP Brussels
European Union ministers urged caution on Monday over a failed revolt by mercenary soldiers in Russia.
This came after the incident raised troubling questions about Russian President Vladimir Putin's grip on power and whether Wagner group fighters might install themselves just over the border in Belarus.
At the talks in Luxembourg, some EU foreign ministers likened the short-lived uprising led by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin to Putin unleashing Frankenstein's monster of his own creation, and to some powerful and evil spirit.
But several others, concerned that they might be seen to be offering support, were at pains to point out that the revolt remains an internal Russian affair, and that many questions remain unanswered, including Prigozhin's precise whereabouts and whether he may be taking troops with him.
Most seemed to agree that the incident will have security implications for Europe and that the important thing is to help Ukraine take advantage of the situation.
We are analysing this carefully, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters. There are also risks involved, which we are still unable to assess at the moment. For us Europeans, the only thing that matters is to support Ukraine.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who was chairing the meeting, said that the monster that Putin created with Wagner is acting against his creator. He added that "the political system is showing fragilities, and the military power is cracking.
It's now the moment to support Ukraine, more than ever, Borrell said.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg told reporters that Putin can't get rid of the ghosts he summoned, and they're going to haunt him now. He cited the revolt as proof that "there are cracks in the power structure.
Prigozhin was granted exile in Belarus, just 35 kilometres from Lithuania's capital Vilnius. It remains unclear what charges he might face, if any. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who brokered the deal, gave few details.
Russian leaders, whether civilian or military, have not commented on the situation.
Wary of the insecurity that this might mean for his country, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said he wants to see very specific plans from his allies to reinforce NATO's eastern flank, including Estonia, Latvia and Poland.
We're seeing how fast things can transpire. It took half a day for a military detachment to move 200 kilometres away from Moscow. So imagine, how fast can they do that crossing Belarus and appearing on Lithuania's border, he said.
Still, Landsbergis insisted that the West should not be distracted by events in Russia, even if the revolt has revealed a grey zone of unpredictability inside the country. All we have to do is keep focused on Ukraine, he said.
Wagner troops have played a crucial role in the Ukraine war, capturing the eastern city of Bakhmut, an area where the bloodiest and longest battles have taken place. But Prigozhin has increasingly criticised the military brass, accusing it of incompetence and of starving his troops of munitions.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Jun 26 2023 | 7:37 PM IST

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