Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that the United States is assuming that the potential threat to Russian President Vladimir Putin might not be over.
“This is an unfolding story,” Blinken said Sunday during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We haven’t seen the last act. We’re watching it very closely.”
The current crisis in Russia began Friday after Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, once a close confidant of Putin, accused Russian forces of targeting Wagner troops in missile strikes. Prigozhin threatened to lead a “march of justice,” and his forces took control of Rostov-on-Don, a city near the Ukrainian border.
The mutiny ended before the weekend was over, after Prigozhin struck a deal that would require him to leave Russia for Belarus while Moscow promised to revoke criminal charges against him. On Sunday, Wagner troops began pulling out of Russia’s southern Voronezh region.
Though the conflict was resolved almost as quickly as it began, it was a blow to Putin’s leadership as he continues to wage war in Ukraine, Blinken said, calling it “a direct challenge to Putin’s authority.”
“Sixteen months ago, Russian forces were on the doorstep of Kyiv in Ukraine, thinking they’d take the city in a matter of days, thinking they would erase Ukraine from the map as an independent country,” Blinken said. “Now, over this weekend, they’ve had to defend Moscow, Russia’s capital, against mercenaries of [their own] making.”
“Prigozhin himself, in this entire incident, has raised profound questions about the very premises for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the first place,” Blinken added.