While we are still learning the details of last weekend’s mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner Group, there is understandable hope that the chaos in Russia might hasten the end of the war in Ukraine. But it is just as likely, perhaps more so, that the Wagner mutiny created conditions that could actually prolong the war.
The following is an edited transcript of a June 2019 conversation then-WPR editor Elliot Waldman had with Mark Galeotti about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The two discussed all things Vladimir Putin: his strengths; his foibles; and whether he’s actually the geostrategic chess master that many Western commentators have made him out to be.
The short-lived Wagner mutiny in Russia last weekend may not demonstrate that President Vladimir Putin’s grip on power has been weakened. But it does demonstrate that the power of the Russian state he is gripping has been weakened and is an indication of how Putin’s regime is stoking dangerous tensions within Russia’s elite.
In the faceoff between liberal democracies and autocracies, the competing camps are enlisting backers across the globe, and Latin America has become an important battleground. Venezuela has emerged as the epicenter of activity for the anti-Western front, as highlighted by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi’s visit to Caracas last week.
With Spain set to take over the European Union’s rotating presidency on July 1, and snap parliamentary elections scheduled for three weeks later, the country’s position on the war in Ukraine has become more relevant—and more contentious, with both sides of the political spectrum facing internal divisions over the issue.
Ukraine has called for an ICC investigation into the bursting of the Kakhovka dam as an act of “ecocide.” But if the ICC does frame the intentional breaching of the dam as an attack on the natural environment rather than on civilians, the relevant rules of international law would not make such a prosecution a simple matter.
What happens in Ukraine will not stay in Ukraine. That is the essence of an argument commonly made for why the U.S. must support Kyiv in resisting Russian aggression: A failure to stop Russia will give other powers the impression that they can pursue their interests with aggressive impunity. But is that really the case?
Earlier this month, Indonesian Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto proposed a plan to end Russia’s war in Ukraine. Though quickly dismissed as unfeasible by Kyiv and many Western commentators, the proposal is significant for what it reveals about Jakarta’s attempts to navigate the politics of the war in Ukraine.
A gathering crescendo of voices calling for Ukraine to join NATO had raised hopes among some observers that Kyiv might be offered membership at the alliance’s summit next month. Those hopes have been dashed by recent comments from French and German officials. But despite arguments to the contrary, Ukraine should join NATO immediately.
South Africa’s stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrates that the country’s crisis of governance is not confined to the domestic scene. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s approach to the war has been afflicted by the same blend of ineffectual leadership and ideological grandstanding that characterizes his domestic performance.
This year’s G-7 summit made it clear the group views China and Russia as threats to the international order and offered insights into how the Western powers plan to counter them. It seems the G-7 approach has three facets: ignore Russian intimidation, economically decouple from China and court nations throughout the Global South.