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Vladimir Putin: Wagner mutiny in Russia 'doomed to fail'

June 26, 2023

Russia's president thanked soldiers of the Wagner Group for turning back from their march to Moscow, but added that anyone who tried to stir the pot in Russia was "doomed to fail."

Vladimir Putin delivers a short address, thanks citizens and soldiers of the Wagner group for their patriotism and avoiding more bloodshed
Russia's President Vladimir Putin delivered a brief addess to the nation, saying everything under his watch was to avoid more bloodshedImage: Uncredited/Russian Presidential Press Service/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked commanders and soldiers from the Wagner Group private military company during an address to the nation Monday.

He thanked Russians for their "endurance, unity and patriotism," adding that most of Wagner's forces were "patriots."

However, he warned that any attempt of blackmail or unrest in Russia was "doomed to fail."

"From the start of the events, on my order steps were taken to avoid large-scale bloodshed," the Russian leader said.

"It was precisely this fratricide that Russia's enemies wanted: both the neo-Nazis in Kyiv and their Western patrons, and all sorts of national traitors," Putin said.

The Russian leader has often falsely labeled the Ukrainian government of being overrun by Nazis, despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy being Jewish.    

"They wanted Russian soldiers to kill each other," Putin added in his address.

Putin: Wagner troops can relocate to Belarus

Wagner troops can return to their families or go to Belarus

Putin gave the Wagner forces involved in the push towards Moscow late last week the options of joining the military, relocating to Belarus, or simply returning to their families.

"I thank those soldiers and commanders of the Wagner group who did not go to the fratricidal war, they stopped at the line," Putin said.

"You will be able to conclude a contract with the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense, return to your families or go to Belarus. I will keep my word," he said.

DW's Russia expert Konstantin Eggert said this might be a sign that Putin was looking to "softly disband" the Wagner group. "Goinbg to Belarus, which [Belarusian President] Alexander Lukashenko has basically turned into Russia's semi-colony, is not your safest bet."

Lukashenko was also expected to make a statement later on Monday, a source close to him said, in which he would "answer everything, very soon."

Putin's address to the nation was brief, as he went into a meeting with defense and security officials following the speech.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Russian news outlets that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov, and National Guard head Viktor Zolotov were at the meeting.

Putin at the head of a table, with security and defense officials seated on either side of the long table, on Monday
Putin chaired a meeting of security and defense officials on Monday after the aborted mutinyImage: Valery Sharifulin/TASS/dpa/picture alliance

US reached out to Russia during rebellion

Putin's speech came after Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin released an audio message earlier Monday to explain why his forces launched a mutiny against Russia's leadership.

Even though the US has declined to comment on Prigozhin's motivation for the brief rebellion, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said they were in touch with Russian officials.

Biden says West was not involved in Wagner revolt

"Instability in Russia is something that we take seriously and we certainly had lots of questions over the course of the weekend," he said.

"We did have and were able to have in real time — through diplomatic channels — conversations with Russian officials about our concerns," Kirby said.

UAE declares support for 'actions of the Russian leadership'

Separately and relatedly, the United Arab Emirates was keen on an assessment of the situation in Russia, the Kremlin said.

"Having received comprehensive information, the Emirati leader declared full support for the actions of the Russian leadership," the Kremlin said.

rm, rs/rc (AFP, AP)