Russia has already demonstrated its offensive capacity in the Ukraine war, experts conclude. Vladimir Juškin, head of the Baltic Center for Russian Studies, interprets Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin speaking up as preparation for a coming power struggle.
As concerns Russia's offensive capacity in Ukraine, its forces have demonstrated the latter in recent months.
"What they tried to achieve in different points along the front was the major offensive they were planning. They found minimal success around Bakhmut. Elsewhere, they made virtually no progress. Russia does not have the strength to launch a new major offensive at this time," said Indrek Kannik, head of the International Center for Defense and Security (ICDS).
Vladimir Juškin said that Russia has lost the war on the strategic level and recent events rather constitute a prelude to the coming power struggle in post-Putin Russia. Colonels and majors are furious at Putin and Russian generals who sent them to die in Ukraine. Juškin refers to this group as national patriots.
"We are witnessing the formation of the post-Putin authority today. Prigozhin's interview is future-oriented. He understands that there is a political crisis brewing in Russia in the wake of a military defeat in whatever form. He will pick a side and have an important role in that crisis," Juškin said.
The analyst remarked that private military companies will also play an important role in the looming power struggle, pointing to former Deputy Defense Minister Mikhail Mizintsev who joined Wagner and other players.
"Medvedev's militant rhetoric suggests he will also pick a side, as will Dmitri Peskov who sent his son to fight with Prigozhin. Mizintsev simply became Prigozhin's deputy. And to that company we need to add various private military firms," Juškin suggested.
Masses of soldiers returning from the war will also be a crucial factor, Juškin said, adding that he does not see the post-war Russia shaped by democratic powers.
"After the [Ukraine] loss, there will be a dictatorship in Russia – that of national patriots. And the firs thing they'll do is settle the score with national traitors," he remarked.
Juškin suggested that state officials and the business elite have already picked remote airports in Russia and are preparing to evacuate.
Editor: Marcus Turovski