Russian Mercenary Group’s Failed Rebellion: Putin’s Unity and Prigozhin’s Insurrection

2023-06-26 21:27:35

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group, argued that he was not seeking to carry out a coup but was acting to prevent the destruction of Wagner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin thanked the nation on Monday for showing unity after an armed rebellion over the weekend was aborted less than 24 hours after it started.

Hours earlier, the mercenary boss defended his short-lived insurrection in a boastful statement.

In his first appearance since the end of the rebellion, Putin also thanked most of the mercenaries for not allowing the situation to deteriorate into “bloodshed.”

The Russian president said that all necessary measures have been taken to protect the country and the people from the rebellion.

He blamed “enemies of Russia” and said they “miscalculated.”

The Kremlin also tried to project stability on Monday when authorities released a video of Russia’s defense minister reviewing troops in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group, argued that he was not seeking a coup but was acting to prevent the destruction of Wagner, his private military company.

“We started our march because of an injustice,” he said in an 11-minute statement, without giving details about where he was or what his plans were.

The dispute between the leader of the Wagner Group and Russia’s military high command has festered during the war and erupted into a riot over the weekend when mercenaries left Ukraine to seize a military headquarters in a southern Russian city.

They advanced apparently unopposed for hundreds of miles toward Moscow before turning back on Saturday after less than 24 hours.

The Kremlin said it had made a deal for Prigozhin to move to Belarus and receive amnesty, along with his soldiers.

There was no confirmation of his whereabouts on Monday, although a popular Russian news channel on Telegram reported that Prigozhin was staying at a hotel in the Belarusian capital, Minsk.

Prigozhin mocked the Russian military on Monday, calling its march a “master class” in how it should have carried out the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

He also mocked the military for failing to protect Russia and pointed to the security breaches that allowed Wagner to advance 780 kilometers toward Moscow without facing resistance.

The upbeat statement made it no clearer what will ultimately happen to Prigozhin and his forces under the deal reportedly brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Prigozhin only said that Lukashenko “proposed to find solutions for the Wagner private military company to continue its work in a legal jurisdiction.” That suggested that Prigozhin could maintain military strength from him, although it is not known at this time which jurisdiction he is referring to.

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