"He’s [Prigozhin] clearly trying to draw a sharp contrast between his presence directly on the battlefield, his engagement with his soldiers, and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense, which he frequently attacks as being out of touch elitists who are damaging the war effort," says Brian Taylor, professor of political science.
The visibility of losing their flagship for an entire fleet inevitably attracted attention, says retired Vice Admiral Robert Murrett, professor of practice of public administration and international affairs. It proved that any and all Russian vessels approaching Ukraine's littoral waters were under threat, he adds.
“Wagner was a very useful stopgap in that period between when [Russia] had so many of their regular forces attrited and Putin came around to the realization that he had no choice but to bring in hundreds of thousands of more people. That may, in some sense, prove to be that Wagner is at its sort of height of influence,” says Brian Taylor, professor of political science.
"Most of the old guard have sought to remain in places like Mali, or in Africa, away from the Ukraine fight, because the guys I talked to before the invasion were not supportive of the invasion," says Sean McFate, adjunct professor in Maxwell's Washington programs.
The Moscow summit has the effect of underscoring and reinforcing the status of “Russia as a junior partner with China—economically, militarily and diplomatically,” Robert Murrett, professor of practice of public administration and international affairs, tells the Associated Press.
"Putin has always known that NATO poses no credible security threat to Russia itself. Since the end of the Cold War, NATO’s force posture and the U.S. military presence in Europe have greatly declined, reducing any potential military threat to Russia. What really scares the Russian elite is the spread of democracy," argues Michael John Williams, associate professor of public administration and international affairs.
"Those who think international law can curb mercenarism are unrealistic. Even if we had solid laws (which we do not), who will go into Ukraine and arrest all those mercenaries? Not the UN or NATO. The market for force resists arrest, which is why mercenaries are the second oldest profession. Now they are back, and we must re-learn strategies to fight this unique form of warfare," writes Sean McFate, adjunct professor in Maxwell's Washington programs.
As we pass the one-year anniversary of Russia’s war in Ukraine, numerous factors such as the Russian military’s poor performance, Putin’s botched mobilization, mounting casualties, economic challenges resulting from sanctions and export controls, and increasingly visible elite fissures are raising questions about the political stability of the Russian regime. Brian Taylor, professor of political science, weighs in.