Among the many lingering questions about the Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion is why Russia’s vast security apparatus was so poorly prepared for it. The FSB, the Kremlin’s main internal security service, has long placed a heavy emphasis on “prevention” and taking aggressive steps to preempt any threats to the state before they occur. The security agency even had informants within the Wagner organization. Yet it seems to have taken no action to stop the mutiny before it started or to warn the Kremlin about Prigozhin’s plans.

Then, as Wagner forces made their move, both the FSB and Russia’s National Guard, the main body assigned to maintain internal security and suppress unrest in Russia, failed as rapid response forces. The National Guard made every effort to avoid a direct confrontation with Wagner; for its part, the FSB—which also has several elite special forces groups—did not appear to take any action at all. Instead, the most powerful security agency in the country issued a press release calling on Wagner’s rank and file to stay out of the uprising and to go arrest Prigozhin—on their own.

Equally startling was the reaction of Russia’s military intelligence, GRU, to the Wagner escapade. Consider that moment when Wagner forces marched into Rostov-on-Don, Russia’s main command center for the war in Ukraine. As Prigozhin sat together with Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, deputy minister of defense, and Vladimir Alekseyev, first deputy head of the GRU, Alekseyev seemed to agree with Prigozhin that there was a problem with Russia’s military leadership. When Prigozhin said he wanted to get Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Valery Gerasimov, the head of Russian forces in Ukraine, apparently to make them answer for their mistakes, Alekseyev laughed and replied, “You can have them!” Shortly after these comments were aired, a member of Russian special forces told us, “Alekseyev is right.”

In the wake of the Prigozhin crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin faces a dilemma. It has become clear that the larger threat to his regime may not have been Prigozhin’s mutiny itself but the reaction of the military and the security services to that mutiny. Now, he needs to find a way to deal with that intelligence and security failure without creating new uncertainty about his grip on power. And unlike in previous crises, he may no longer be able to rely on the security agencies he has long used to ensure political stability.