In several ways, the aborted mutiny in Russia by the Wagner Group was a surprise for the U.S. and its allies, another chink in the relatively invincible Putin war machine. President Biden wasn’t exactly crowing about the tumult last weekend in Moscow but he made “absolutely” clear that Putin and his army had been weakened.
“It’s hard to tell but he’s clearly losing the war,” Biden told reporters on the White House South Lawn, mistakenly referring to the war in Iraq instead of Ukraine. “He’s losing the war at home. He’s become a bit of a pariah around the world. And it’s not just NATO, it’s not just the European Union, it’s Japan,” he added.
According to Yevgeny Prigozhim, Wagner’s leader, the rebellion was called off because he realized such a move would be a disaster. Even Russian military leaders agreed that such an uprising would be immediately crushed. At the center of the revolt was a compromise measure engineered by the president of Belarus, who offered an option to many Wagner Group members.
Biden’s comment on the recent developments in Russia and Ukraine is as measured as ever, careful not to give Putin any grounds to believe that the U.S. is part of a plot to remove him from office. In the spring he’s up for re-election after serving as president for 23 years.
When asked again if Putin is weaker today than he was several days ago, Biden said, “I know he is.”