बुधबार, फागुन ९, २०८०

Russian Armed Mutiny : Has the Bell Rung for Putin’s Ouster ?

Deepak Kumar 27 Jun, 2023
Deepak Kumar

It is almost 32 years since the Russian people heard discouraging statement on 24 June 2023 from the government. Otherwise, President Putin and his government always used to keep boasting. The Russian people were surprised and awestruck on hearing this statement.

President Putin, on 24 June 2023, through the medium of Russian State television, gave a written statement in which it was stated that there has been an armed mutiny in Russia. He compared the situation with 1917 which is celebrated all over the world as Russian Revolution. He in his five sentences depicted the true picture of coup of czar. He said that, “I have spoken to all the commanders And, I appeal the Russian people, personnel of the armed forces, law enforcement agencies and special services to support the government.”

On the other hand, the mayor of Moscow, Segey Sobyanin, by issuing a statement asked the people to confine themselves in their homes and come out only when there is emergency. He said that the situation is very grave since there has been an armed mutiny in the country.

Such type of demoralizing statements the Russian people had heard last was in 1991 when they had first tasted the fruit of independence.

Actually, the circumstances were even more serious. Because the reports that have come in have not been evaluated properly. The headquarters of Southern Command of the Russian forces is situated at Rostav-on-don, 100 kms away from the Ukranian border.

The Russian mercenaries whose numbers is reported to be 25,000 where in the cantonments at the Ukranian border. From there, they marched on up to Rostav-on-don where they captured headquarters of Southern Command of the Russian forces. From there, they reached Voronezh, which is 570 kms away, and from thereon to Moscow, which is located at a distance of 514 kms. When these rebels turned back to return, then Moscow was only 250 to 300 kms away. BBC had shown Google Map as per which convoy of troops could be clearly seen proceeding from Rostav-on-don to Moscow.

The question is whether a convoy of troops can cover a distance of 800 kms in mere few hours. The answer is a big ‘no.’ This means that the soldiers from other places also joined this convoy midway.

Igal Avtamonov, the Governor of Lipetsk (124 kms away from Voronzeh), issued a statement that rebels of Wagner Group were roaming in his city and accordingly, declared security related measures. Similarly, Governor Vladislav Shapsha of Kaluga City, which is 190 kms away from Moscow, by issuing a statement appealed to the people to remain indoors and imposed restriction on the public vehicles at the same time. The purpose of writing this is that convoy of troops from all four place, viz., Rostov-on-don, Voronezh, Kaluga and Lipetsk advanced towards Moscow.

Now, the moot question is that the armed mercenaries did not fire even a single bullet and along with capturing defence headquarters of the Southern Command covered a distance of 700 kms also. This is not possible without the assistance of the regular Russian army.

It was established that an oil depot of the Voronezh City was burnt by firing a missile from a helicopter. But, some reports were also received that two helicopters were shot down by the rebel forces, but these could not be confirmed.

And this will be surprising for only those people who are not aware of the ground reality. The Russian people have greeted the rebels with open heart. This shows that the Russian people are against the war initiated by Putin. Otherwise, they would not have greeted the rebels.

Presently, the image of Russian President Vladimir Putin has been dented before the world and in the eyes of the Russian people. The manner in which Putin entered into a pact through the President of Belarus, Aleksandr Grigoryevich Lukashenko, has futher tarnished his image. It indicated that how much influence a foreigner president has over Putin’s army, administration and politics. What would have been more shameful for Putin in 23 years of his public life?

The Ukraine war has not only sullied the image of Putin but also exposed Russian army, administration and secret service agencies. The adulation the Russians had earned in the world, is now lost. It is another thing to bully by use of nuclear weapons.

It looks difficult to impose restriction on the Wagner Group because its mercenaries are deployed in Africa. This Group implements the policies of Russian Defence and foreign affairs.

Recently, in May 2023, Retd. Colonel General Mizintsev, the Deputy Defence Minister of Russia, has assumed the post of Deputy Commander of Wagner Group. The Wagner Group has deep inroads in Russian Defence and Foreign Ministry. Apart from it, it has diamonds, gems, oil, etc., in huge quantities. The raid which the Russian government made on 24 June 2023 in the St. Petersburg office yielded 400 crore Roubles cash as recovery.

The news that the Russian Army will intake 25,000 mercenaries in its regular army does not appear to be correct. I have two examples before myself. First, the Maoist government in Nepal wanted that their cadres should be inducted into army, but the Nepalese army did not allow it; only a few could get recruited and that too, not in regular capacity. Similar situation was in 1948 when proposal to induct soliders of Azad Hind Fauj into army came for consideration. Then, the army protested because they all had been part of the British Army who had surrendered before the Japanese. Therefore, it looks difficult. Actually, there were many reasons as to why the Wagner Group resisted.

The prominent reason is that, in July 2023, they were required to sign a document with the Defence Ministry, which they were not inclined to. Second, it was there allegation that the Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu and Army General, Valary Gerasimov did not give them ammunition in adequate quantity; instead, the Russian army attacked them with missiles as a result of which their 2000 mercenaries were killed. Yevgeny also stated that there are two lobbies, Moscow and St. Petersberg, in the Russian government.

These claims, however, appear to be hollow. But the question is why did the Russian President Putin did not stop chief of Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin from speaking? Although he knows that only because of the mercenaries of the Wagner Group, seizure of Bakhmut was made possible, which the Russian Army could not do on its own. He also knew that, by replacing his Group, Kladyrovite volunteers of Chechnya were being deployed.

Actually, this is sign of Putin’s imminent ouster. He dreams of remaining president for the lifetime. That is why, amendment was made in the constitution. He will also ruin Russian Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu and Chief of General Staff, Gerasimov along with.

US Secretary of State, Antony J. Blinken has rightly commented that the effect of all these developments would be known only in the coming weeks.