Vladimir Putin and other top Russian politicians have become “weaker” during the past months of conflict against Kyiv, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov has claimed.
The military leader believes a clear signal of this weakness within the Kremlin has been the short-lived mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Mr Reznikov told CNN: “This coup d’état is a real illustration that [the] regime in the Kremlin became weaker.
“It means they are not so strong as they were the year before. I think we will see the continuing of this so-called conflict.”
Ukraine’s defence chief also said to believe the beginning of a “transition moment” is underway in Moscow and those close to Putin are already planning to replace their leader.
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He said: “I think the conflict among them started.”
On the evening of June 23, Mr Prigozhin – once a close ally of Putin – surprised the world by launching a coup against the Russian military leadership, which had already been the target of his vitriolic verbal attacks.
Within hours, his Wagner Group mercenary soldiers overtook the Russian city of Rostov, important as it houses the headquarters running the Kremlin’s military operations in Ukraine.
While Mr Prigozhin remained in Rostov, members of the paramilitary group marched towards Moscow and only turned back after their leader agreed to terms brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
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Mr Lukashenko obtained from Putin amnesty for Mr Prigozhin and those who took part in the coup, while the Wagner Group warlord agreed to go into exile in Belarus.
The troops were given the choice to follow Mr Prigozhin, join the Russian military or go home.
Mr Prigozhin’s whereabouts remained a mystery for almost a month, with Mr Lukashenko himself saying at first the former Putin’s ally was flying into Belarus only to share a few days later the warlord was not on his soil and could be in St Petersburg.
Mr Prigozhin was in Moscow in late June, Putin said, as he claimed the pair held an almost three-hour-long meeting to discuss the recent events.
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CIA Director Bill Burns said on June 20 Mr Prigozhin had “moved around a bit”, spending time both in Belarus and Russia.
Last week, a dark and grainy video appeared to show Mr Prigozhin speaking to his troops at a military camp where many Wagner soldiers are believed to be staying.
The warlord, who before this video had last been seen in person on June 24, was praising his men for the efforts in Ukraine, but said he would not let them fight in the conflict again until “we feel sure that we will not be forced to put shame on ourselves”.
He then told them to train Belarusian soldiers and make them part of the “second strongest army in the world”.
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