Foreign Minister Lipavský: struggle for succession to Putin regime has begun

Jan Lipavský

As the turbulent events of the past weekend unfolded in Russia, world leaders braced for potential civil war that could turn the tide of history within the space of hours.  The Czech foreign ministry warned Czech nationals against travelling to the country, but said its diplomatic representation would remain in place for the time being.

Representatives of the interior, defense and foreign ministries attended a meeting of the Crisis Staff on Sunday evening, to discuss the situation in Russia and map out possible action to protect Czechs in the country. Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said the situation was explosive and the security environment could deteriorate at any moment.

“I think that we can safely say that the struggle for succession to Putin’s regime has begun. Since there is no democracy in Russia the leadership is likely to change by force. We will be following developments closely and taking additional security measures if needed.”

Minister Lipavský said that the already small number of Czech embassy staff in Russia would remain in place for the time being. He said the ministry presently knows of around 60 Czech citizens in Russia who were informed of the risks and had chosen to remain in the country but warned others against travelling to Russia at the present time.

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Martin Dvořák | Photo: Kateřina Cibulka,  Czech Radio

He said Czech intelligence was exchanging information with services in allied countries and Czechia would discuss the situation with its allies at Monday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

“Everyone agrees that the situation is extremely volatile and could deteriorate rapidly at any moment. This requires close coordination among the allies, some of whom may have better information than others.”

Minister Lipavský said that, while the situation in Russia was hard to read, one thing was clear.

“Russia will pose a threat to European and Czech security for years and likely decades to come. This is something that we need to prepare for and something that has been reflected in the new security and defense strategy approved by the government.”

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov,  ČTK/AP

Reactions to the turbulent events in Russia have been filling social networks and media outlets. Interior Minister Vít Rakušan wrote that the Russian regime is a "bear on clay feet" and various groups are fighting for power around Russian President Vladimir Putin, weakening his position. European Affairs Minister Martin Dvořák speculated that the failed mutiny may have been a well-orchestrated scenario intended to move the Wagnerite forces to Belarus and bring them closer to Kyiv. He argued that the fact that Prigozhin's forces came close to Moscow without firing a shot and pulled back after a single phone call with the Belarusian leader, who is a puppet of Putin’s, was extremely suspicious.

Meanwhile security analysts say that the attempted mutiny will be a big blow to the morale of Russian troops and Ukraine is likely to benefit from this in its counteroffensive.

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