HomeTop StoriesPutin tries to 'buy time' with Wagner's mutiny response: CIA director

Putin tries to ‘buy time’ with Wagner’s mutiny response: CIA director

CIA Director William Burns said Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “trying to buy time” as he decides how to respond to Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s recent mutiny during the war in Ukraine.

Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that the private mercenary group’s short-lived insurgency late last month was “the most direct attack on the Russian state” in Putin’s 23 years in power and “exposed some of the significant weaknesses in the system” the Russian president has built.

“Those weaknesses were exposed by Prigozhin’s mutiny, but I think deeper than that, they have been exposed by Putin’s misjudgment since he also launched this invasion,” the CIA director said.

“If and when the Ukrainians make further progress on the battlefield, I think that will lead more and more Russians in the elite and outside the elite to also pay attention to Prigozhin’s critique of the war,” he added. “And so Putin is trying to buy time, thinking about what to do with Wagner and what to do with Prigozhin himself.”

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Burns also suggested that Putin is currently “trying to sort things out” in Russia, but will eventually try to separate Prigozhin from what he values ​​in the Wagner Group.

Prigozhin marched his mercenaries on Moscow last month after months of criticism of Russia’s military leaders’ handling of the war in Ukraine. However, he halted the advance after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko reached a deal that allowed him and his troops to safely leave Russia and enter Belarus.

“What we saw were Russian security forces, Russian military, Russian decision-makers adrift, or appeared to be adrift for those 36 hours,” Burns also said Thursday.

“So for many Russians watching this, accustomed to this image of Putin as the umpire of order, the question was ‘Isn’t the Emperor wearing any clothes?’ or at least ‘Why is it taking him so long to get dressed?’” he added.

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