On Monday night, in the aftermath of last weekend’s attempted putsch by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, Putin announced that he was giving Wagner fighters “the opportunity” of signing a contract with the Russian army, going home, or joining Prigozhin in Belarus. On Tuesday morning Putin ordered all charges dropped against any Wagner member. As more details emerge from the chaos of the aborted rebellion, some things are becoming clearer – while others remain shrouded.
Many in the West have already firmly concluded the incident has permanently damaged Putin and that his end is now only a matter of time. While such Western views are understandable to a degree, the reality is more complicated and uncertain. Some things are known, others aren’t, and the ultimate consequences could still end up both positive and negative for Putin. First, the knowns.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko held extensive talks w …