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ISW: Putin reveals concern over potential threats Wagner Group, Prigozhin may pose to him

by Olena Goncharova July 24, 2023 6:43 AM 1 min read
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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin made several significant symbolic gestures during his July 23 meeting with Alexander Lukashenko, the Institute for the Study of War said in their latest report.

Putin took Lukashenko to visit Kronstadt in St. Petersburg – the historically significant island fortress where Russian soldiers and sailors conducted a famous unsuccessful anti-Bolshevik insurrection in early 1921 that the Soviet government ultimately suppressed.

The meeting, according to the institute, suggested Putin "sought to project power and confidence in his own supremacy" over the Yevgeny Prigozhin-aligned faction that is based in St. Petersburgh.

Putin and Lukashenko toured Kronstadt with St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s younger daughter Ksenia.

"Both Beglov and Shoigu are personal enemies of Prigozhin, and Putin‘s public meeting with Beglov, Shoigu‘s daughter, and Lukashenko on the historic grounds of the failed Kronstadt rebellion was almost certainly intended to signal Putin’s and his loyalist cadre‘s defeat of Prigozhin‘s armed rebellion and Prigozhin’s St. Petersburg-based supporters," the ISW said.

The experts noted that Putin also made an unusual effort to take photographs with crowds of local Russian citizens, including children, while at Kronstadt, "likely to present himself as a popular and beloved leader among the Russian people."

"These symbolic gestures indicate that Putin is concerned about his perceived popularity, the security of his regime, and the array of factions competing for power within the high echelons of Russian governance," the ISW concluded.

Explosions reported in Moscow, mayor claims drone attack
Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on its Telegram channel that two drones hit central Moscow in the early hours of July 24. Fragments of a drone were found later some two kilometers away from Russia’s Defense Ministry’s main building.
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