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Generals In Vladimir Putin's Circle Remain Vulnerable Despite Surviving Revolt

Generals in Vladimir Putin's circle remain vulnerable despite surviving revolt as a Monday morning video featured Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, although there was an unusual absence of sound. The video provided no clues as to Shoigu's whereabouts as he studied a battlefield map.

Hilda Workman
Jun 26, 20233798 Shares97390 Views
Generals in Vladimir Putin's circle remain vulnerable despite surviving revoltas a Monday morning video featured Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister, although there was an unusual absence of sound. The video provided no clues as to Shoigu's whereabouts as he studied a battlefield map.
Despite the seemingly mundane footage, it served as the first evidence that Shoigu still retained his position. Both Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, the commander of the Russian invasion force, had vanished from public view since Yevgeny Prigozhin initiated an audacious coup attempt to overthrow them the previous Friday.
Although Prigozhin and his Wagner paramilitaries eventually halted their advance on Moscow, with the warlord agreeing to leave Russia, they left Shoigu and Gerasimov in an increasingly precarious position. The failed revolt presented Putin with a crucial dilemma: either dismiss the generals or allow them to continue overseeing the floundering invasion. Both choices carried significant risks that could potentially backfire, jeopardizing both the ongoing war and Putin's regime, according to analysts.
According to Dara Massicot, a senior political scientist at the US-based Rand Corporation:
Shoigu and Gerasimov are so bad at their jobs that it’s dangerous for Putin to leave them in place. But loyalty and stability are paramount to Putin. I just don’t see how he’s going to have these conditions dictated to him like that.- Dara Massicot, senior political scientist at the US-based Rand Corporation
For an extended period, Yevgeny Prigozhin had been directing his attention towards Valery Gerasimov and Sergei Shoigu, holding them responsible for Russia's military setbacks in Ukraine. He portrayed them as inept commanders who remained safely situated in Moscow while Russian soldiers perished on the battlefield.
Following Prigozhin's remarkable coup attempt, which witnessed his forces advancing halfway from the Ukrainian border to Moscow, seizing a military base, and downing multiple army helicopters in a matter of hours, some military analysts in Russia speculated on Sunday that Gerasimov and Shoigu might have become additional casualties of the failed uprising.
Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Moscow-based defense think tank Center for Strategy and Technology Analysis, expressed his belief that Shoigu and Gerasimov had become evident liabilities and would likely be removed from their positions. He also acknowledged the possibility that their departure could have been a part of the negotiated settlement that resulted in Prigozhin withdrawing his forces. The Kremlin, however, denied such claims.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sitting beside another minister
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sitting beside another minister
The significant blow to Russia's reputation has been so severe that even commentators who were previously supportive of the war, both on state television and social media, now concede that the failed coup has cast doubt on the entire conflict.
According to a statement by Karen Shakhnazarov, a Kremlin-linked director:
It’s a serious blow to the authority of the country and the authority of the president. There was a feeling here that everything was unshakable, and that turned out not to be the case.- Karen Shakhnazarov, a Kremlin-linked director
Should Shoigu and Gerasimov be ultimately ousted, it would signify a remarkable downfall for both individuals. Sergei Shoigu, a prominent figure within the intricate Russian political landscape, has held the position of defense minister since 2012, making him the longest-serving minister in Russia.
Prior to that, he had spent decades as the minister of emergency services. This role granted him considerable public visibility, comparable to that of Putin himself. Shoigu frequently appeared on television, arriving via land or helicopter to respond to various disasters, whether they were of human origin or natural calamities occurring throughout Russia.
Throughout the years, Shoigu has been a frequent companion of Putin on holiday excursions to Siberia. They have been photographed together while engaging in activities such as mushroom picking, dining outdoors in snowy surroundings while clad in sheepskin coats, and even indulging in shirtless spearfishing during the summer.
However, in more recent times, increasing attention has been directed toward the fame and business ties of Shoigu's family members. They have faced vehement criticism for their privileged lifestyle and perceived immunity from the repercussions of the ongoing war. Such scrutiny has intensified the public's discontent and frustration.
In the case of Gerasimov, he faced disagreements with commanders who opposed his aggressive tactics in Ukraine. These commanders, along with militia members, criticized his approach for causing significant casualties without yielding substantial progress or advantages.
Prigozhin's criticism of Shoigu and Gerasimov, as well as the wider Russian military, has been escalating over the course of several months. In a video message delivered earlier this spring, Prigozhin expressed his discontent against the backdrop of a Russian cemetery, symbolizing the loss of Russian lives. “You sit in your expensive nightclubs and your kids enjoy life making YouTube videos. These guys are dying so you can get fat in your wood-paneled offices.”

Conclusion

The reception received by Wagner's fighters in Rostov highlights the resonance of Prigozhin's relentless attacks on the army's leadership. This was evident on Saturday morning when Prigozhin called for a direct meeting with Shoigu and Gerasimov. In response, Vladimir Alekseyev, the deputy head of Russian military intelligence, chuckled and exclaimed, “Take them!”
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