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Is Europe Ready for a Post-Putin Russia?



European politicians are at a crucial crossroads as internal unrest shakes Russia. The recent uprising organized by Yevgeny Prigozhin has disproved the notion that Vladimir Putin's autocratic leadership offered stability, albeit being brutal. This rebellion has exposed the weakness of Putin's government and shown that Europe can no longer choose between instability and Putin; Putin has become the instability.


Leaders in Europe, especially in Western Europe, need to understand how urgent the situation is and make preparations for a post-Putin Russia. Planning that goes beyond simple scenario exercises and incorporates detailed emergency response plans should involve both the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


The uprising has revealed Russia's fundamental divisions, as French President Emmanuel Macron noted with reason. In order to prepare for the potential of a post-Putin Russia marked by radical right-wing nationalism or perhaps disorder, rather than the anticipated liberalization, European states must accept that they would be among the first to suffer the effects of instability in Russia.


The EU's borders are already under strain as a result of the invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent departure of Russian and Ukrainian residents. A more unified and coordinated reaction is required in the event that Russia experiences violent instability because it could trigger a significant influx of refugees into Europe.


A leadership vacuum in Russia might spark unrest in nearby nations. An increase in hostilities in regions like Transnistria, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia could affect Moldova, an EU candidate nation, and Georgia, a member of the EU and a country with an association agreement and visa-free travel policies.


Because Europe and Russia share long land borders, the spread of WMD, such as chemical and biological weapons, is also a major worry. To combat this menace, European governments must be proactive.


If governmental control over the use of force in Russia deteriorates, European NATO countries bordering Russia would face heightened dangers. Escalation may result from radicalized Russian leadership or domestic unrest, demanding a strong deterrence message from NATO and the United States.


Russia's internal unrest may further give Ukraine new opportunities on the battlefield. Given that the balance of power appears to be changing in favor of Ukraine, Europe should be ready to assist that country in taking advantage of any potential weakness in the Russian military.


It is imperative to stress that the West's main objective is for Russia to leave Ukraine, not for a regime change in Moscow. As a result, in order to dispel claims of Western intervention, the United States and Europe have been circumspect in their reactions to the latest uprising.


A unified transatlantic message was, however, guaranteed by close cooperation between Western leaders and outreach to European colleagues. Even still, if a situation comparable to this one arises in the future, this unity might not be enough.

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