Vladimir Putin’s big dilemma exposed after Soledar win: Igor Girkin

Moscow’s claim that its forces captured Soledar means President Vladimir Putin must make a difficult decision about how to balance competing interests between those fighting in his invasion of Ukraine, according to former Russian commander Igor Girkin.

Russia’s military said Friday it had taken the city of Donetsk and allowed it to advance toward the town of Bakhmut nine miles south, which has been the scene of months of fierce fighting. Kyiv has denied this, saying the battle for Soledar is ongoing.

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin has taken a strong personal interest in the operation, in which his troops were heavily involved, although the Russian Defense Ministry initially failed to recognize the role of the private military company (PMC) in the battle.

The Russian Ministry of Defense later acknowledged the involvement of Wagner troops as a fight developed over who should be responsible for the alleged advance.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin sits in the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow January 11, 2023.

Girkin said on his social media channel Telegram that there had been an “acute conflict” between unofficial forces like Wagner and the traditional Russian military command, a situation he felt was “completely unacceptable” during a war.

He said the Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov, now in charge of the Ukraine campaign, poses a risk to Wagner because he and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu want to subordinate or even disband Wagner and transfer his troops and equipment to the general Russian military Effort.

This would remove all those who personally view Shoigu and Gerasimov as “hostile” to themselves and politically dangerous, said Girkin, a military blogger who has criticized Russia’s war effort.

Prigozhin is a Putin ally and is said to have the president’s ear, but Girkin’s comments have “uncovered a major dilemma for the Russian president,” according to the think tank Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

Girkin said Putin “must act as an arbiter” between what appear to be competing interests of Prigozhin and the Defense Ministry.

The options are that Wagner retains his role in the war, or that Prigozhin is marginalized, which would end his political influence. The latter case would strengthen Shoigu’s position, although it would not please Putin’s inner circle, Girkin said.

In a dig at Putin’s distancing himself from Ukraine’s military failures, Girkin said that “the most normal way out of the current situation would be for Putin to personally assume the role of supreme commander.”

“However, the president has stubbornly evaded personal responsibility for the actions of troops in the war for nearly 11 months,” Girkin wrote, adding that Putin must choose between sidelining Prigozhin, “dealing a powerful blow to Shoigu — or picking it up.” ” would the thing itself.”

The ISW said Putin’s attempt to balance Russian defense ministry support, distance himself from military failures, and exploit Prigozhin’s parallel military forces “may have implications for his power.”

news week has reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.

https://www.newsweek.com/russia-ukraine-putin-girkin-sterlov-isw-wagner-1773785 Vladimir Putin’s big dilemma exposed after Soledar win: Igor Girkin

Rick Schindler

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