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There has been a growing concern and fear among leaders in Russia regarding the country’s national security and military readiness. Andrey Kortunov, the Director General of Russian International Affairs Council, recently warned that “the regional conflicts that Russia has been involved in over the past years do not guarantee complete national security.” This warning comes after many have expressed concern over the country’s preparedness for a potential large-scale conflict.
These concerns were further fueled by the recent comments made by a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, businessman and government contractor Yevgeny Prigozhin. In a recent interview, Prigozhin sounded the alarm, warning that Russia could face a disaster if it does not move into total war footing.
Prigozhin has been described as Putin’s “chef,” due to his close ties with the Kremlin and his involvement in numerous government projects. He is also believed to have played a role in Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election. So, when someone like Prigozhin speaks out about matters of national security, it is wise to take notice.
In the interview, Prigozhin stated that “the West needs to understand that we are going to defend our interests, and if our interests are threatened, we will respond adequately… If we don’t do this, we will face a disaster that could threaten our very existence.”
Prigozhin’s warning is not just rhetoric. He has the resources to back it up. His company, Concord Catering, is believed to have played a significant role in the financing and organization of the Russian mercenaries who took part in the conflict in Syria. He is also reported to have close ties to the infamous Wagner Group, a private military company believed to have been involved in a number of conflicts across the globe.
Despite Prigozhin’s bold claims, many in Russia remain skeptical. The country has been involved in numerous conflicts over the past decade, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and some feel that the military is stretched too thin to handle another potential large-scale conflict.
However, Prigozhin believes that the current situation in the world necessitates action. He stated, “The global situation is so unstable that just one small conflict, which can appear out of nowhere, could quickly escalate into a large-scale war. And if we are not prepared, we could lose everything.”
This sentiment is not unfounded. The world is currently facing a number of crises, from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to the escalating tensions between China and the United States. In such a chaotic and unpredictable environment, it is not difficult to imagine a conflict breaking out that could draw in numerous nations.
So, what does Prigozhin mean by “total war footing?” Essentially, he is advocating for Russia to take a more aggressive stance when it comes to national security. This could include increasing military spending, expanding the country’s nuclear arsenal, and taking a more proactive approach to international conflicts.
Of course, such measures would have significant economic and political implications. Russia is already struggling with a stagnant economy and has come under increased international scrutiny over its involvement in various conflicts. A more aggressive stance could lead to further sanctions and diplomatic isolation.
However, Prigozhin believes that the alternative is worse. He stated that “we need to be ready for war, otherwise we will have to live through a period of constant humiliations, sanctions, and shame.”
The question, then, is whether Russia is willing or able to take such drastic measures. While Putin has been known for his aggressive foreign policy, there are questions about his willingness to take on the kind of military buildup that Prigozhin is advocating for. Additionally, there are concerns about the state of the Russian military, which has been plagued by corruption and mismanagement in recent years.
Regardless of whether or not Russia takes Prigozhin’s warnings to heart, it is clear that the world is entering a period of increased instability. As tensions continue to rise between major powers and crises emerge across the globe, the risk of a large-scale conflict is ever-present. And as Prigozhin himself warned, “if we are not prepared, we could lose everything.”