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Will the aborted Wagner rebellion affect the course of the war in Ukraine?

The aborted rebellion of the Wagner Group in Russia caused confusion and weakened the image of President Vladimir Putin and his military leaders, which may have an impact on the course of the war in Ukraine, according to analysts.

Tactically, the direct repercussions of the rebellion remain unclear as Wagner does not play any actual role in the Ukrainian theater at the moment, according to Rob Lee, a researcher at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

The expert added on Twitter, "The Wagner forces were replaced at the end of May, the beginning of June, in Bakhmut (in eastern Ukraine, where mercenaries fought for many months), and I do not think they are currently on the front lines, with a number of them being summoned to participate in this event."

He explained that "Wagner is an offensive force, not a defensive force," which the Russians need to block the ongoing Ukrainian counterattack.

For his part, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said, on Sunday, that the rebellion by the leader of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, "posed a direct challenge to Putin's authority" and showed "the existence of real cracks" at the top of the pyramid of power.

As for the researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, William Al-Berki, he told Agence France-Presse that "this event weakens the credibility of Putin, who appeared panicked on television" on Saturday morning.

"Everyone in Moscow is asking: If it was a short rebellion, why did the president talk about a civil war? On the other hand, if Prigozhin is still alive, all Russian security actors will feel they can get away with it" if they resort to force. .

During the 24-hour armed revolt, during which Wagner's forces reached less than 400 kilometers from Moscow, Prigozhin directly challenged the Russian president's authority before withdrawing his men and leaving for neighboring Belarus.

His forces advanced hundreds of kilometers without encountering any resistance, and shot down six helicopters and a military plane.

- Moral blow -

Before their withdrawal, the rebel forces took control of the headquarters of the Russian army in Rostov (southwest Russia), the center of operations management in Ukraine.

This uprising constituted contempt for the two sworn enemies of the Wagner leader, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov, whom Prigozhin accuses of letting his men down on the Ukrainian front.

On Saturday, Kiev described this confusion as a "opportunity" at a time when its forces are launching a counterattack to defeat the Russian forces occupying parts of the south and east of the country.

The Ukrainian army also mocked Russia, and a video of a Ukrainian soldier watching the news on his tablet while greedily eating popcorn spread on social networks.

However, Moscow confirmed that Wagner's aborted rebellion would not affect "in any way" its operations in Ukraine.

And the Russian strikes continued in Ukraine on Saturday, killing 5 people in Kiev, according to the city's mayor.

On Sunday, Russia announced that it had repulsed a number of attacks by Ukrainian forces in the east and south of the country, after Kiev announced that it had made field progress.

Nevertheless, experts suggest that the rebellion will be a blow to the morale of the Russian forces deployed in Ukraine, which have suffered heavy losses in 16 months in order to achieve marginal field gains.

In this regard, Lucien Kim, a researcher at the American Wilson Foundation, said in an article in "Foreign Policy" magazine, "The anger at the Russian leadership is not limited to Wagner. Prigozhin's anger at the elite can extend into the ranks of the Russian army."

In turn, Pierre Razo, a researcher at the Mediterranean Foundation for Strategic Studies, said, "This will certainly affect Russian morale."

"On the Ukrainian side, there is momentum that could be used to break through the front, or at least to gain positions," the expert added.

But Razo warned that "it will also be necessary to secure the Belarusian border because it is not safe from a treacherous attack. If 15,000 Wagner operatives march from Belarus, they can do damage, that may be what Prigozhin negotiated with Putin."

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