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What the Mutiny Has Cost Putin
And how it has got some Republicans twisting in knots.
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Tim Miller: Hey, Vladimir. It’s getting a little spicy out there. I hope you got a reliable food checker.
Raf Sanchez: This is a government right now that appears to be preparing to fend off a coup.
Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. Last weekend, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, shocked the world when he betrayed Putin and turned his vicious paramilitary organization away from the Ukrainian battlefield and toward Russia’s capital.
Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell in Anchorman): Boy, that escalated quickly.
Miller: For months, Prigozhin had been railing against the incompetent Russian military leadership.
Prigozhin (through a translator): The Defense Ministry tried to deceive the public and the president to tell a story that there was a crazy aggression from the Ukrainian side, and that they were joining with the NATO alliance to attack us.
Portal 63 (Darryl Henriques on Star Trek: The Next Generation): A most interesting conclusion.
Miller: And the final straw was his claim that a Russian rocket struck his own encampment, causing casualties, though it remains unclear whether that happened as he says, or whether he just used it as a pretext for his already planned mutiny.
Sam Malone (Ted Danson on Cheers): Trouble at home?
Miller: The world watched with bated breath as Wagner moved through Russia with ease, taking over towns and military outposts before stopping less than 200 miles from the Kremlin.
Peter Griffin (from Family Guy): Geez, that was a close one!
Miller: Before the s*** really hit the fan, Prigozhin cut a deal, supposedly brokered by Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko, that ended the insurrection and led to his exile in Minsk.
Pat Buckles (Barry Diamond on Seinfeld): A young girl’s strange ,erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.
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Miller: So in the end, should we care?
Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso on The Boys): Oh, most definitely.
Miller: Here’s why. Number one: It’s evidence of Putin’s weakening position in Russia. As a Russian expert in the Financial Times put it, “It turns out you can start a revolt against the president, and be forgiven. . . . That means the president isn’t that strong.”
Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti on Brooklyn Nine-Nine): Yikes!
Miller: And if it’s clear that Putin is no longer that strong, well, then it’s only a matter of time till somebody else comes knocking.
Walter White (Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad): I am the one who knocks!
Miller: Two: It also illuminated how much damage the Russian military has suffered from their war of aggression. If your soldiers are so pissed about your incompetence that they about-face and begin attacking you instead, and succeed rather easily, then how the f*** do you plan to take on Ukraine with their NATO-backed weapons?
Omni-Man (from Invincible): That’s the neat thing: You don’t.
Miller: Think about how broken the troop morale must have been for this to have happened at all.
Fred C. Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre): Yeah, not so good.
Miller: Three: It makes the country look like it’s in shambles on the world stage. This won’t impress Xi Jinping or the other countries Russia needs to keep trading with in order to stay afloat. Just imagine what other countries might think when a lunatic stages an insurrection and then gets off scot-free. That only happens in crumbling, third-world hellholes, right?
Prof. Hubert Farnsworth (from Futurama): Oh, I made myself sad.
Miller: But speaking of Republicans, the fourth reason this matters is: The mayhem in Moscow adds a new level of spice to the already hot feelings about whether we should keep helping Ukraine, and to what extent. Trump and DeSantis have both indicated they want us out of the Ukraine-funding business, though DeSantis backed off that a bit when he got blowback from his supporters in the Republican establishment, donor, and pundit class.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul): You’re not seeing the bigger picture.
Miller: But a bunch of Republicans in Congress have remained stalwart and united with Biden to help Ukraine, including Kevin and Mitch. They see the weakening of Russia as both a moral and strategic victory for the U.S. Here’s Don Bacon, one of the more sensible House Republicans, making that argument on Meet the Press.
Don Bacon: Our actions have helped Ukraine. . . . We have spent roughly 5 percent of what we budget for our military, and it’s depleted roughly half of Russia’s army. And I think this has weakened Russia for maybe a decade to come.
Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt in Inglorious Basterds): Damn good deal!
Miller: So yeah, with Vladimir hanging on by a thread, who wins a Republican war of ideas will have a real impact on how much rope he has left. So that’s why it’s critical we don’t let Trump get back in power, so no one’s there to bail out Vlad.
Clancy Wiggum (from The Simpsons): This bully’s going down!
Miller: We’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”