(NEW YORK) — This weekend’s attempted rebellion by the Wagner Group, a Putin-packed private military company, appeared to show some serious distrust among the Russian government and its military allies.
Andrei Kozyrev, a former Russian foreign minister and author of the book “The Firebird: The Elusive Fate of Russian Democracy,” spoke with ABC News Live’s Linsey Davis Monday evening about his analysis of the situation and the relationship between Wagner’s leader, financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, and President Vladimir Putin.
ABC NEWS LIVE: Let’s start with your reaction to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s remarks today. Putin said Russian patriotism is what stopped the rebellion and, “It would have been suppressed anyway.” It appears that Putin is trying to project some strength or at least calm. But how weak or vulnerable would you say his position is right now?
ANDREI KOZYREV: Well, it’s actually very difficult to say. The interview was a laughing stock, so to say. But that’s for informed observer[s] or for foreign observers who have a lot of information about the reality of what happened. But remember that he addressed [the] Russian public and [the] Russian public is absolutely deprived — Russian people are deprived of truthful or even near-to-truth information. They’re totally disinformed. And when he speaks of patriotism and then once he speaks of their resolve to stay against the West, against neo-Nazi Ukrainians, I mean, all that is a phantom, right?
ABC NEWS LIVE: Putin also said fratricide — the killing of one’s own forces in war — is exactly what Ukrainian leaders and Western allies want. President Biden has insisted that the West had nothing to do with this. Do you believe that divisions within Russia will ultimately lead to the end of this war and potentially the end of Putin’s rule?
KOZYREV: See, these divisions are between the warlords and Prigozhin is Putin’s Frankenstein. He created him and all of them want the same [thing]. They are just fighting for the room on the top, for money, for power, but they are on the same wavelength politically. They want to continue the war in Ukraine.
They all are like, washed in blood after this war, so they know that there is no room for them in a civilized society. So it’s all the same, and it should not be overestimated. It’s a fight inside a wolf pack, so to say, between the wolves.
ABC NEWS LIVE: Do you expect President Putin to lash out on the battlefield in Ukraine at this point because of this threat to his power?
KOZYREV: Definitely. … They will definitely do everything to have a success of their invasion in Ukraine. And that’s the main point, I think, for the West to understand that first of all, there is no red line for either of them. You see how Putin immediately or very quickly [is] threatened by force, by his own lackey, but he steps back. So there is no red line for which he wants to die. He wants to stay alive, and his only interest is to save his own skin, so to say, … to survive himself.
The same for Prigozhin. So these guys are not those kind of warriors [that] should be countered with. … So the West should understand that the best way to deal with them and to prevent any kind of a reckless move is to ignore the red lines, but to give Ukraine the most powerful weapons to win and soon.
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