Expert Says Warlord Deal Exposes Putin’s Weakness

Expert Says Warlord Deal Exposes Putin's Weakness

( – Former U.S. ambassador to Russia John Sullivan said that Russia’s truce with the Wagner mercenary forces, as brokered by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, is evidence of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s weakness.

The peace deal comes in the wake of what was originally an attempted coup by the Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who initiated the coup after accusing the Russian military of bombing his military installations in Ukraine.

Sullivan told news anchor Margaret Brennan on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, June 25, that Russia is now in a weak position due to the peace deal being brokered by Belarus, which is widely considered a vassal state of Russia.

Sullivan noted just how much the tables had turned between the two countries, considering that it was Putin, in August 2020, who “came to [Lukashenko’s] rescue,” making him dependent on the Russian president to stay in power. However, Putin seems to have leaned significantly on Belarus to ensure that he does not succumb to a coup.

Sullivan said that this predicament is “evidence of the weakness,” and that it’s “not just an appearance of weakness,” but actual weakness on Putin’s part.

Prigozhin founded the Wagner Group in 2014 as a mercenary group for the Russian government, having been considered a close confidant to Putin for many years. Sullivan noted Prigozhin’s many years spent in prison for robbery and fraud-related offenses. The U.S. has long considered the Wagner Group a “transnational criminal organization,” Sullivan said.

According to Sullivan, the Wagner Group operates in African countries and other places worldwide. He claims it’s motivated primarily by access to resources such as gold mines and oil resources.

The news of the Belarusian brokerage of peace between the Kremlin and the Wagner Group comes as Russia’s war with Ukraine continues to rage on. The Wagner resistance lasted a mere 36 hours, and Prigozhin now reportedly heads to Belarus to live in exile.

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