A mysterious drone attack on the Kremlin. A car bombing that wounded a key advocate of the invasion of Ukraine. Four military aircraft shot down in a single day — inside Russia’s borders.
If the Ukrainians and their allies wanted to rattle the Russian leadership, it’s working.
Never, in more than two decades of covering Vladimir Putin’s regime, have I seen it in such an obvious state of chaos and disarray. These days, Kremlin-watchers don’t have to read tea leaves or decode cryptic utterances from the leadership to spot the signs of intrigue — it’s all out in the open, thanks to Putin confidant Yevgeniy Prigozhin.
In one of several recent videos, Prigozhin, founder of the mercenary army known as the Wagner Group, stood over dead Russians in a field and cursed the Russian military leadership, demanding punishment for Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as well as for Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. He blamed the two men — both close Putin associates he accused of neglecting supplies for his troops — for “tens of thousands of Wagner dead and injured.”
Putin himself has yet to comment.
Top officials in Kyiv must have been rubbing their hands in glee. While the Kremlin is primarily to blame for its own troubles, given its obvious corruption and incompetence, the Ukrainians have been doing everything they can to undermine morale and exacerbate divisions among their enemies. A constant drumbeat of drone attacks on military bases, oil refineries and fuel depots has added to the sense of unraveling. (Officially, Kyiv does not acknowledge striking targets inside Russia. It’s also hard to determine whether some of the most mysterious attacks — such as the one on the Kremlin — were actually launched by Ukrainian forces.) [Continue reading…]