Russian mutiny has weakened Putin but implications unclear: Germany's Scholz

Russian mutiny has weakened Putin but implications unclear: Germany's Scholz
Germany's chancellor believes the failed mutiny by Wagner mercenaries last week had "weakened" the Russian president.
3 min read
Scholz said the implications for Putin's invasion of Ukraine remained unclear [Getty]

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday the failed mutiny in Russia last weekend had weakened President Vladimir Putin but the implications for his invasion of Ukraine remained unclear.

Speaking in a wide-ranging, hour-long interview with ARD broadcaster, Scholz echoed U.S. President Joe Biden in saying the insurrection by Wagner mercenaries was part of an internal Russian power-struggle and the West was not involved in it.

"I do believe he is weakened as this shows that the autocratic power structures have cracks in them and he is not as firmly in the saddle as he always asserts," Scholz said.

Asked about the impact of the mutiny on the Ukraine war, the German chancellor said the pre-condition for successful peace talks was Russia accepting it needed to withdraw its troops from the country.

"Whether this has become easier or harder through these events is not really clear," he said in the interview recorded on Wednesday afternoon for airing later in the evening.

Scholz said he did not want to participate in speculation about how long Putin would likely remain in office, saying the West's aim in supporting Ukraine was to help it defend itself, not to bring about regime change.

Russian intelligence services were investigating whether Western spy agencies played a role in the aborted mutiny, the TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Monday.

Scholz said he had spoken on Saturday not just with the leaders of the United States, France and Britain but also with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

"We quickly agreed to stay very quiet. We have nothing to do with the conflict in Russia," he said.

Asked if at any point on Saturday he had hoped the mutiny spelled the end of Putin's rule, he said it would have made no sense as it was unclear if what would have come after him would have been better.

Separately, Scholz said he was confident U.S. President Joe Biden would win re-election next year.

"I really do believe that President Biden will be successful in his bid for re-election, because he is not just an experienced politician, but also someone who really works for social cohesion in his own country," Scholz, a Social Democrat, said.

"As such, he wants what is right and is doing what one has to in order to counter Trumpism and other such movements."

Asked if he had any concerns about the health of the 80-year-old Democratic president, he said he perceived no signs Biden would not be able to continue in office.

"He is someone who is fit for his age, also according to his doctors - and this has all been made public - who have no doubt, that he can manage another term," said Scholz.