According to the director of the CIA, Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to buy time as he decides how to handle Yevgeny Prighozin.
The Wagner mercenary group’s leader, Mr. Prigozhin, was in charge of a rebellion that took place in Russia a month ago.
According to CIA director William Burns, that revolt showed serious flaws in the authority structure Putin had established.
He warned the Aspen Security Forum that the president of Russia might yet seek revenge on Mr. Prigozhin.
The CIA director stated on Thursday that “what we are witnessing is a very complicated dance.”
When questioned about a recent video that appeared to show the Wagner chief in Belarus, Mr. Prigozhin stated that he had recently travelled to both Russia and the capital of Belarus, Minsk.
According to Mr. Burns, Mr. Putin is probably attempting to gain time until he decides how to handle the Wagner group’s leader.
There is still usefulness in that mercenary force for the Russian government in places like Africa, Libya, and Syria, so it seemed probable that Mr. Putin would want to distance the organization from its head.
Putin may still seek revenge on Wagner boss – CIA chief
And the director of the CIA indicated that Mr. Putin might postpone getting even.
According to Mr. Burns, Putin typically believes that retaliation is best served cold. “Putin is the supreme proponent of retaliation in my experience, so I would be surprised if Prigozhin escapes further retribution.”
US President Joe Biden said earlier last month that the Wagner boss might be poisoned.
“If I were him, I would watch what I ate. The president joked, “I would keep an eye on my menu.
If I were Prigozhin, I would not fire my food taster, the CIA director echoed.
The revolt was undoubtedly known in advance by the intelligence agency, Mr. Burns said, confirming earlier claims.
The CIA director also said that Sergei Surovikin, a senior Russian army commander who was said to have known about the Wagner revolt in advance, does not now have “freedom of movement.”
According to Mr. Burns, the mutiny was the most direct attack Mr. Putin has faced in his 23 years in office. It also openly contested the Kremlin’s reasoning for the war in Ukraine, with Mr. Prigozhin claiming that it was founded on lies.
The CIA director claimed that what was most amazing about the agreement was that the leader of Russia felt forced to work with his former chef.
Since Mr. Prigozhin first gained notoriety by providing cuisine services to Mr. Putin and the military before creating the Wagner company, he is frequently referred to as “Putin’s chef.”
The 36-hour mutiny will have left many in the nation wondering “whether the emperor had no clothes or at least why it is taking him so long to get dressed,” Mr. Burns said. Mr. Putin has portrayed himself as the arbiter of order in Russia.
The Russian elite would have been left with increased doubts about Mr. Putin’s judgement, which have existed ever since his choice to start a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
According to him, more Russians may pay attention to Mr. Prigozhin’s criticism of the war if Ukraine makes additional strides on the battlefield.
The CIA director stated that given that offense was more difficult than defense and the Russians had months to prepare, it should not be surprising that Ukraine’s counteroffensive was proving to be a “hard slog”.
Making progress is not going to be simple and will take time. I am an optimist, though,” Mr. Burns added.
Additionally, he claimed that there were indications that Russia might be considering a false flag operation in which it would target Black Sea cargo and then attribute the attack to the Ukrainians.