Russian President Vladimir Putin has sternly accused the leaders of the recent Wagner mutiny of seeking to plunge Russia into bloody conflict. He promised to hold the organizers accountable for their actions. In a passionate address, Putin branded the revolt as an attempt to destabilize the country and pledged to bring those responsible to justice.
While Putin did not explicitly mention Wagner’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin by name. The Russian President denounced the mutiny while simultaneously praising regular Wagner troops as “patriots.” He offered them the option to join the army, travel to Belarus, or return to their homes. Prigozhin had previously denied any involvement in attempting to overthrow Putin’s regime.
Wagner is a private mercenary army that has fought alongside the regular Russian forces in Ukraine. The recent mutiny, which saw Wagner fighters seize control of a major Russian city before heading toward Moscow in a convoy of military vehicles. It was reportedly sparked by government plans to exert direct control over the Wagner group. According to Prigozhin’s 11-minute audio statement released on Telegram.
In June, Russia announced that “volunteer formations” would be required to sign contracts with the Ministry of Defence. It is seen as a move threatening Prigozhin’s authority over Wagner. In his statement. Prigozhin claimed that the rebellion was also a response to the mistakes made by defence officials during the conflict with Ukraine but stressed that Wagner always acted in Russia’s interests.
Prigozhin halted the rebellion to prevent the loss of Russian soldiers’ lives
These remarks were Prigozhin’s first public comments since striking a deal to end the mutiny. Reports suggest that the agreement includes his relocation to Belarus without facing any criminal charges. Although Russian state media, citing officials, has indicated that he remains under investigation.
Prigozhin emphasized that he had halted the rebellion to prevent the loss of Russian soldiers’ lives. But acknowledged that some Russian civilians were disappointed with the march’s cessation. He firmly stated that he had no intention of attempting to overthrow Russia’s elected authorities. It remains unclear where Prigozhin is currently located and what his future plans entail.
In his own address to the Russian public, President Putin stated that the organizers of the Moscow march would be held accountable for their actions. He accused his former ally Prigozhin of betraying Russia. Putin used the speech to reestablish his authority and dispel the perception that his response to the Wagner mutiny was inadequate. His tone throughout the recorded address was indignant, reflecting his determination to counter the notion that he had not effectively handled the crisis.
The president’s message highlighted that those behind the insurrection had betrayed their country and its people. Asserting that they were serving the interests of Russia’s enemies by seeking to provoke bloodshed and division. Putin also accused the West of wanting Russians to “kill each other.” However, US President Joe Biden categorically denied any involvement by the US or its allies in the Wagner mutiny during a press conference, contradicting Putin’s assertion.
Putin argued that his crisis management had averted a catastrophe. Nevertheless, many Russians observed events over the weekend and may remain unconvinced by his impassioned performance. The president’s attempts to reestablish his authority may face scepticism given the widely perceived weakness of his initial response to the Wagner mutiny.