Blinken says the situation in Russia is extraordinary: “Cracks have appeared that did not exist before”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the situation unfolding in Russia “extraordinary” in an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday, but said it “is too early to know where it is going.” on the brink of an apparent civil war with the Wagner mercenary group.
“But we can say this: first of all, what we’ve seen is extraordinary. And I think you’ve seen cracks emerge that didn’t exist before,” Blinken said, quoting Wagner’s boss in part, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who questioned the premise of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
CNN previously reported that US intelligence believed Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner mercenary group, had long been planning a major challenge to Russian military leadership, but it was unclear what the ultimate goal would be.
Blinken, who led a series of calls to allies and partners over the weekend, declined to say on Sunday whether the incident could be the dismantling of the leadership of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“It’s nothing more than a chapter added to a very, very bad book that Putin wrote for Russia. But what is most striking is that it is internal,” he said. he declares.
“The fact that you have someone inside who is directly questioning authority, directly questioning the premises on which he launched this aggression against Ukraine. That in itself is a very, very thing. powerful. It adds cracks. Too soon to know where they will end.” , but it is clear that they raise new issues for Putin to face,” he added.
Prigozhin vowed Friday to retaliate against Russian military leaders for an alleged attack on a Wagner military camp and claimed control of military installations in two Russian cities. However, this Saturday afternoon he released an audio recording in which he claimed he was repelling his forces from a march on Moscow, just hours after launching an insurrection that posed the greatest threat to the authority of Putin for decades.
Blinken said the United States has not seen any dismissed Russian servicemen, saying that “remains to be seen.”
“It’s no secret that Prigozhin was very critical of the military leadership, the defense minister, the head of the armed forces. So how is it going now in terms of personnel? All of that remains to be seen,” he said.
Blinken said the situation could serve Ukraine’s advantage in carrying out a counteroffensive.
“To the extent that Russia is now distracted, Putin has to worry as much about what is happening inside the country as about what he is trying unsuccessfully to do in Ukraine. I think this creates an additional advantage which Ukrainians can take advantage of,” he said. .
But any instability in Russia also worries US officials, given its status as a nuclear power.
“Any time a big country, like Russia, shows signs of instability, it’s a cause for concern. It’s something we’re very focused on. When it comes to their nuclear weapons, we don’t “We haven’t seen any change in their stance and we haven’t made any changes to ours,” Blinken said.