On Monday, Putin tersely addressed the short-lived revolt led by the caterer-turned-private-army-commander, Yevegny Prighoizin. In his address, Putin condemned the Wagner Rebellion’s “March of Justice” as “a stab in the back of our country and people.”
The rebellion was quelled on Saturday, but the shocking turn came as the first sign of extreme turmoil within Russian military operations.
These were Putin’s first remarks on the mutiny since a deal was reached on Saturday. Throughout his remarks, he failed to mention Prighoizin by name. Putin’s speech aimed to appeal to Russian citizens and military operatives, stressing unity, saying, “They understood it all, including that they had taken criminal action, that they had split and weakened a country that is now facing a colossal threat.”
Putin also made a careful effort to avoid a sweeping condemnation of the Wagner Group personnel at large. While strongly denouncing those who took part in the rebellion, Putin also stated, “At the same time, we know that the vast majority of the fighters and commanders of the Wagner Group are also patriots of Russia… I thank the soldiers and the commanders of the Wagner group, who made the only correct decision and did not move ahead with fratricidal bloodshed.”
Putin also used his airtime to position the Wagner Rebellion as a ploy by Ukraine and its Western allies. Putin stated, “That’s exactly what’s wanted by Russia’s enemies and the neo-Nazis in Kyiv, their Western patrons, and various fifth columnists.”
The fate of Prighozoin is still unclear. But now he is on his way to Belarus. His departure was part of a deal between the Wagner Group and the Kremlin. Another stipulation of the deal was a pardoning of the troops and commanders involved in the mutiny.
Meanwhile, amid speculation that the United States could have played a hand in the Wagner mutiny, President Biden announced the U.S. had “nothing to do with it.” Biden said staunchly, “This is part of a struggle within the Russian system.”
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