As the Ukraine war progresses, Kyiv officials say that the countdown has begun to the end of Putin. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner Group’s mutiny, and its implications for Vladimir Putin and the course of the war in Ukraine are the centre of attention in the Ukrainian capital.
The drama at the Russian border has made Kiev more convinced that Mr. Putin’s tenure as president of Russia is coming to an end. The closest advisor to President Zelensky, Andriy Yermak, declared, “I think the countdown has started.”
At a briefing in Kyiv, he looked back to the year that Russia first invaded Ukraine, annexing the Crimean Peninsula.
“What Ukraine has seen since 2014 has become evident for the entire world,” said Mr Yermak.
“This [Russia] is a terrorist country whose leader is an inadequate person who has lost connection with reality. The world must conclude that it’s impossible to have any kind of serious relationship with that country.” Senior Ukrainian officials who spoke to the BBC in Kyiv argued that President Putin could not ride out a catastrophic loss of authority.
Invasion of Ukraine
It started, they said, with his disastrous decision to mount a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February last year. The Wagner mutiny, and Mr Prigozhin’s denunciation of the Kremlin’s justifications for the war have, they said, removed what remained of Mr Putin’s chances of hanging on.
“The Putin regime” one of them insisted, “cannot be saved.” It is vital to remember that anything Ukrainians, especially the ones running the country, say about their Russian enemies comes in the heat of a fight that they see, correctly, as a struggle for national survival.
The Ukrainians have fought a clever media war, and they are remarkably consistent in the messages that they deliver to their own people and their Western allies, as well as their enemies in Moscow.
Wishful thinking must play a part in the assessments they share with journalists. But it is still worth spending time getting their views of the crisis that has engulfed the presidency of their mortal enemy Vladimir Putin.
Without doubt, he is facing the most serious challenge to his authority since he first became president in 2000.
Other senior officials in Kyiv firmly believe that informal but organized networks of disenchanted insiders oppose Mr. Putin.