The rebellion carried out by Yevgeny Prigozhin's Wagner mercenary group appears to have been either defeated or at least mitigated by Moscow after a weekend of chaos. This could be mixed news for Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin; on the one hand, he could come out of this stronger by consolidating power, but he could also end up looking weaker because of the chaos that unfolded.
This has implications for Russia’s allies around the world. Russia’s Putin has been at the forefront of advocating for a multi-polar new world order that will supplant the United States.
The US has generally dominated the world order since 1990 and the end of the Cold War, but Russia’s Putin wanted to position Russia to challenge the West. Towards that end, it has worked with China, Iran and Turkey as well as global groupings such as the SCO, CICA, BRICS and others.
As the fallout from the Prigozhin affair continues, there will be close monitoring from other authoritarian regimes that want to supplant the US-led world order. They will wonder if Russia is as strong as it pretends to be and concerned that their own dissidents may take a cue from the mutiny in Russia.
China’s Global Times notes: “With the world paying close attention to the escalating tension between the Kremlin and the Wagner mercenary group, Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to defend the country from internal treason with decisive actions in a televised speech on Saturday, following a criminal case on Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin for allegedly advocating a mutiny.”
The report says that Russia has defined the rebellion as “treason” and that “whether the conflict can subside is a test of Putin's political wisdom, including his ability to control the domestic situation when both the Russian military and government face unprecedented internal and external pressure, experts noted.” It also notes the crucial role Wagner plays in the war effort in Ukraine.
Iran has much to lose
Iran supplies drones to Russia and so Iranian media has a stake in Russia defeating the West. Russia has also helped Iran in nuclear negotiations. Iran’s Fars News examined the Prigozhin rebellion and noted: “In a situation where any internal unrest in Russia in the shadow of the Ukraine war is a serious threat to Moscow, the ‘Wagner’ rebellion proved to Russia's enemies that they cannot capitalize on the internal division in this country.”
The Iranian report notes that Putin gave the Wagner boss a ladder to climb down from and end the rebellion.
“Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, [enabled the] end Wagner's adventure by [an agreement in which it] withdrew its forces from the areas they entered and Prigozhin departed to Belarus.” The report praises Putin as wise. "Today, Russia's allies are required to be vigilant and protect themselves and their allies," the report notes.
"In our region, the resistance coalition must be highly prepared to face any eventuality, and it may even be necessary to carry out preventive operations to pressure on the Americans in the region.”
By contrast, Turkish state media TRT noted that it was unclear if “any concessions had been made to Prigozhin, other than guarantees of safety for him — something he said Putin had given his word to vouch for — and for Prigozhin's men, to persuade him to withdraw all his forces…The fighters led by Prigozhin, a former convict, include thousands of ex-prisoners recruited from Russian jails.
"His men fought the bloodiest battles of the 16-month Ukraine war, including for the eastern city of Bakhmut.”
China, Iran and Turkey have much to lose if there is chaos in Russia. They want to use Russia against the US and Russia does important trade with them.
All the authoritarian regimes will be watching closely to see how Putin handles the next step.