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Prigozhin’s Failed Coup Was a Blessing in Disguise: In times of political instability, Washington prefers the nuclear devil it knows.

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Published in Foreign Policy

When the Wagner Group’s rebellion against the Kremlin unraveled, many commentators welcomed the prospect of Russian unrest and potential regime change as a way of complicating Russia’s war in Ukraine. In reality, however, the United States likely dodged a bullet when this uprising failed to topple Russian President Vladimir Putin. Though a weakened Russia might struggle to sustain its operations in Ukraine, political turmoil in a nuclear-armed state has historically given Washington good cause for hand-wringing, sparking fears about the stability and security of foreign nuclear arsenals. And even though Russia takes considerable steps to secure that arsenal in peacetime, the sheer size of its nuclear weapon and fissile material stockpile leaves it open to major risks. The Wagner Group crisis may be in the rear-view mirror for now, but as Washington contemplates future challenges to Putin’s authority, it ought to tread carefully.

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