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25 Jun, 2023 04:12

US believes coup attempt in Russia an ‘opportunity’ for Kiev – Politico

Policymakers in Washington reportedly think Prigozhin’s gambit will help Ukraine’s counteroffensive
US believes coup attempt in Russia an ‘opportunity’ for Kiev – Politico

US officials believe Wagner PMC’s insurrection in Russia could play into Ukraine’s hands, allowing Kiev to revitalize its much-hyped counteroffensive, which according to Moscow has so far failed to gain any ground, Politico reported on Saturday.

Shortly before the private military company leader Evgeny Prigozhin agreed to halt his advance on Moscow and withdraw his troops as part of a deal brokered by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, US officials held several meetings to assess the potential impact of the mutiny, the article says. 

They reportedly arrived at the conclusion that the insurrection will keep the Kremlin busy, providing Ukraine’s stalled counteroffensive with a window of opportunity. 

“I don’t see how it could hurt them [the Ukrainians],” one senior official told Politico. Others suggested that the developments would likely help Kiev, pointing out that Prigozhin had taken control of the headquarters of Russia’s Southern Military District in the city of Rostov-on-Don. However, Wagner members left the city on Saturday evening, according to local officials. 

With the Wagner drama unfolding in Russia, a US official told Politico that policymakers in Washington had called their European counterparts, seeking to “reassure them” and tell them to “message neutrality.” “No one should be spiking the football,” he added.

According to Politico, the general consensus among Western officials was that Kiev now had “an unprecedented opportunity to advance.” Some US lawmakers supported this point of view, with Democratic Congressman Jason Crow tweeting that the Wagner insurrection “will almost certainly benefit the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the near term and [Kiev] should move fast to capitalize.”

In the early hours of Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian troops were attempting to take advantage of the Wagner insurrection by readying two brigades for an offensive thrust near the Donbass town of Artyomovsk (known as Bakhmut in Ukraine).

Later, however, it said that while Ukrainian forces tried to mount attacks along several sections of the front, all their attempts failed. 

Ukraine’s offensive, which had been talked up for months, finally kicked off in the early days of June, but has so far failed to gain any ground, with Kiev’s troops suffering heavy losses, according to Moscow. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has admitted that Kiev’s troops have been advancing “slower than desired” in the face of “tough resistance.”