It looked like Russian President Vladimir Putin’s days might be numbered early Saturday, as a mercenary army turned its guns away from Ukraine and began marching to Moscow. Then on Saturday afternoon, the mercenary Wagner Group stopped. Now its leader, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, has agreed to go to Belarus and Putin has retained the presidency. So, is Putin stronger Monday than he was on Friday?
Max Abrahms, Northeastern University professor of political science and public policy, says it’s difficult to say.
“The main takeaway for what I would call sort of anti-Russia pro-West propaganda that they want to leave us with is that this event symbolizes Putin’s weakness—they are not totally wrong with that,” Abrahms says on Monday. “Whenever an adversary, who is armed, controls thousands of mercenaries and is marching towards the capital, it’s not good for the leader of the country.”