Key event proves ‘increasingly insecure’ Putin teetering on the edge

Vladimir Putin meets Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi

Vladimir Putin is becoming “increasingly insecure” over his lack of influence in various former Soviet states, has been told.

It comes as the Russian military was said to be “panicking” after Ukraine advanced on the southern frontline’s Verbove area.

New locations are said to have been captured by Ukrainian troops last week, with more breakthroughs expected to come.

Putin has this month struggled with both his war in Ukraine and efforts to influence politics abroad, especially in countries like Georgia and Armenia, where protests and conflicts have broken out and reignited.

Both countries, formerly part of the USSR, have attempted to move closer to the West and away from Moscow to varying degrees, something Natia Seskuria, a Russia hawk, said Putin is desperate to counteract.

READ MORE Putin eyes up Armenia as next target as he’s ‘interested in overthrowing regime’

She told “I wouldn’t say Putin is about to lose his whole influence in the region, but his influence is diminishing.

“He’s becoming increasingly insecure because he doesn’t have many allies who can actually provide some practical support in terms of military.

“He has some allies who are able to provide some economic support — China for example — but if we evaluate the whole picture, Russia is much weaker now.”

Recent skirmishes saw Armenian President Nikol Pashinyan reach out to Russia for military help against Azerbaijan — a request which fell on deaf ears.

While some said this was a clear sign that Russia still held sway over the country, Ms Seskuria believes it is a key events which proves that the Kremlin’s influence has been “heavily undermined”.

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“While Russia has peacekeepers in Armenia, today, actors such as Turkey have much more leverage,” she said.

“In that sense, Russia is not in a favourable condition but of course, it will try to portray the ceasefire as a success achieved through its mediation.”

In Armenia’s case, recent efforts by Mr Pashinyan to forge closer ties with the West have further isolated Putin and Russia’s ambitions in the region.

Things are more complicated in Armenia’s neighbour, Georgia, whose EU membership bid will be assessed and reviewed in October.

Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, Georgia has seesawed between moving closer to the West and Moscow. Earlier this month, the country’s national security agency recently claimed that pro-EU figures, including individuals in Ukraine, were planning a coup ahead of the October review.

Bacha Mgeladze, deputy director of the counterterrorism unit of Georgia’s State Security Services, alleged that “conspirators are preparing to overthrow the state” on the grounds that Brussels will dish out a negative review of its membership bid.

There hasn’t been any further information about the alleged coup, but Ms Seskuria said the Kremlin, which is known to have allies in the Georgian parliament, will be keen to stop the country from entering the EU.

She said: “It is in the Kremlin’s interest to make sure that Georgia is not a candidate member, and the Kremlin is still very much proactive in what we call hybrid actives in terms of disinformation and the infiltration of the Georgian political scene with agents of influence.

“The Kremlin has been doing this in Georgia for a very long time, but now it’s even more important for them to have a hand in the country and be as disruptive as possible.”

Thousands of Russians have flooded into Georgia, many in September 2022 in order to avoid conscription into the Russian army.

Lax migration rules and visa-free perks between Russia and Georgia mean many have gone unchecked when entering the country, leading to fears that ‘agents of influence’ could be at large in the country, working on behalf of the Kremlin to undermine Georgia’s sovereignty.

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