European leaders gathered in Brussels this week, just days after the short-lived rebellion by Wagner mercenaries.
European policymakers spent the week figuring out the ramifications of the Wagner mercenary group’s failed mutiny and march on Moscow.
An event that stunned Western analysts and left them with more questions than answers.
But apparently, the war in Ukraine has caused immense tensions within Putin’s system and army, leading to a slow build-up of anger and frustration.
Oligarchs are losing tons of money while Moscow’s military hardliners believe Putin is not being aggressive enough in Ukraine.
Yet, Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin ultimately failed to convince the Russian security apparatus to join his revolt – and Putin kept the upper hand. For now.
The thinking in Brussels is that the whole episode is rather positive for Ukraine.
“If your opponent has an internal combat between different parties, it is evident that it is a positive thing from the point of view of military operations,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell said.
“Suddenly, Wagner’s troops abandoned their positions at the frontline and went to do something else. This for Ukrainians can only be positive.”
Meanwhile. Russia’s most senior generals have dropped out of public view amid a drive by President Vladimir Putin to reassert his authority.
Maybe he was comforted by the fact that Washington, in a backchannel contact with Moscow in the middle of the mutiny, reassured him that the Americans had nothing to do with it.
Yes, it is America’s policy to defend Ukraine, but not to topple Putin or to destroy Russia.
At the EU summit in Brussels, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz had the same message.
“We are not party to what is happening in Russia. This is a problem that Putin has brought on himself. We can only observe that.
“And our goal here is not regime change in Russia. Our goal that we’re pursuing is an independent Ukraine.”
The situation in Russia was on top of the summit’s agenda, together with immigration and the relationship with China.
What was not on the agenda at all was the reform of the EU’s electricity market, a top priority since European households and businesses were first hit with astronomical electricity bills a year ago.
A proposal by the EU Commission from last December is still mired in a nasty back and forth between member states.
Its main goals should be no-brainers: protecting consumers, enhancing the stability of energy costs and boosting investments in renewables.
Yet, a recent meeting of energy ministers ended in disagreement.
In an interview with Euronews, Miguel Stilwell de Andrade, CEO of Portuguese energy company EDP, a global leader in renewables, said that Brussels’ proposal is a good one.
“What the European Commission has put forward as a proposal for this new market design is very reasonable. Unfortunately, what we’ve seen now is that as, it’s going through the Parliament and through the European Council, yes, they were telling me more than a thousand amendments have been proposed,” de Andrade said.
“And so, I think there’s still a lot to be discussed to try and make sure that we get something which is consistent and solid and doesn’t fundamentally distort the existing market model.”