Vladimir Putin's maneuver

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By ALEXANDRE DE LIMA CASTRO TRANJAN*

The Wagner group mutiny was a political ploy for Putin to increase his power and make tactical advances on Ukraine

The last few days in Russia have aroused the interest and attention of all of us. We followed, astonished, what we were told was the beginning of the end of Vladimir Putin's rule over the country. Soon, however, the mutiny of the Wagner group proved to be, by all indications, a glorious theater that, unlike what the “analysts” and “experts” of various media insist on saying, only consolidates the power of the autocrat. No, Vladimir Putin is not “weakened” or “scorched”, nor was he on the verge of losing his post. In reality, the Wagner group's mutiny maneuver was nothing more than a political ploy to increase its power and make tactical advances on Ukraine.

In three points, listed in what I believe to be an increasing order of importance, I will briefly and didactically address the reasons why, whether improvised or deliberately, the outcome of that Wagner mutiny was, on the part of Vladimir Putin, a chess player à la Kasparov – this one who, world champion in chess and not in conjuncture analysis, thinks that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is failing.

Perhaps it is necessary to warn about the lack of originality pretensions in my analysis. If, as a Deleuzian that I am, I no longer believe in direct speech, and use the personal pronoun for stylistic convenience and grammatical necessity, I must recognize that, regardless of the premises I follow in the philosophy of language and subjectivity, this text in particular has the contribution from various friends, professors and colleagues who, in enriching conversations, offered me valuable and insightful contributions, as well as allowing me to put my “own” observations to the test.

Image polishing of the Wagner group and demoralization of the Ukrainian army

If what has so far proved to be a resounding failure in the counter-offensive so long promised by Kiev was not enough to highlight the sad weakness of the Ukrainian army in the face of Russian forces, the world has witnessed and placed its faith in the possibility of internal dissent. between the military and paramilitary of the invading country to overthrow the Putinian regime.

Overnight, the bloodthirsty mercenary group became the main hope of overthrowing or at least weakening the Kremlin to the point of making the war winable. Shortly before the agreement, Kiev issued a statement that Prigozhin had “humiliated” Putin. Perhaps it is more humiliating, in fact, to depend on a solution ex machina to survive the war, after so many declarations that they would win it, that the Russians were weak and unprepared, etc.

The possible “fine-tooth comb” in the Russian state bureaucracy

After Wagner's so-called “march for justice”, which could easily be massacred by the hitherto hegemonic Russian air force, it becomes evident how small names like Shoigu, defense minister, are before Vladimir Putin. Moreover, for anyone who may have been excited by the Wagnerian insurgency, a not so pleasant fate will certainly lie ahead, at least far from the echelons of power in Moscow. Wagner's theater of insurrection was a test of the allegiance of the echelons of Vladimir Putin's government, as well as a demonstration of their submission to the Russian president.

Belarus ready for war

Sending Prigozhin to Belarus is, at the very least, proof of Putin's hegemony and commanding power. No one doubts that the uprising would be crushed unless it turned into an army-backed coup, which would be unlikely given that it is the very top echelons of the Russian military that the leader of Wagner has created opposition to.

The “exile” in Belarus, a country that has just received tactical nuclear weapons from Moscow, should only be read as a very strategic move. Belarus, now armed with nuclear power, which would avoid any direct reprisals by its NATO neighbors, will also shelter the troops that took Bakhmut to its defense or, much more likely, will serve as a bridge for Kiev to be taken by storm.

This is because the southern border of White Russia (Беларусь / Белая Русь) is about 150km from the capital of what was once called Little Russia (Малороссия or Малая Россия), a distance that can be shortened if crossed by the Dnipro River. In a few hours, a convoy from the paramilitary group could surround Kiev without major scares. If the war, which until then has served to drain the reserves and industrial production of the United States and Europe, becomes a real problem for Vladimir Putin, who until now has only politically capitalized on the conflict, it could be over in a very short time. .

Alexandre de Lima Castro Tranjan is a doctoral candidate in Philosophy and General Theory of Law at USP.

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