The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, offered this Monday to the mercenaries of the wagner group who rose up over the weekend against the military leadership that join the Russian Army or go to Belarus with their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“Today they have the opportunity to continue serving Russia by signing a contract with the Ministry of Defense (…), return to their family and friends. Or those who want can go to Belarus,” the president said in a speech to the televised nation.
The head of the Kremlin assured that he “will keep his promise” that the mercenaries who revolted will not be criminally prosecuted, within the framework of the agreement reached with Prigozhin on Saturday mediated by the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenkoand after the head of the Wagners ordered the return of his men to their bases before they reached the Russian capital.
In exchange, he was given guarantees that he would not be tried for organizing an armed rebellion., a charge for which he could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. He, moreover, will have to go into exile in Belarus.
Putin, who had remained silent since his address to the nation on Saturday morningwhen he rated the wagnerites mutineers of traitors and promised to punish them, he assured Monday that “in any case, an armed rebellion would have been put down,” but that its organizers had realized this and had “resorted to criminal acts.”
Said the target of the riotwhich occurred when “our comrades are dying” at the front, he claimed, was to “divide and weaken the country”, facing a “colossal external threat” and “unprecedented external pressure,” he warned.
Despite all this, he stressed, “the organizers of the rebellion, betraying their country, their people” were in the process of promoting a “fratricide”exactly “what the enemies of Russia wanted, both the “neo-Nazis in kyiv, and their Western patrons and all sorts of domestic traitors.”
Putin assured that the “great majority of the fighters and commanders of the Wagner group are also Russian patriotsdedicated to their people and their state”, and they demonstrated it on the battlefield by “liberating Donbas and Novorussia”.
He wanted to make it clear that from the very moment the rebellion began on Friday night – when mercenaries crossed the border of Russia’s Rostov region from the Ukraine, seized the city of Rostov-on-Don and began marching on Moscow – he gave direct orders to “avoid much bloodshed”.
“This took time, even for give those who made a mistake a chance to think againto understand that their actions are resolutely rejected by society and what tragic and destructive consequences for Russia, for our state, the adventure into which they were dragged was headed,” Putin said.
The Kremlin chief thanked all military personnelthe law enforcement officers and special services who “got in the way of the rebels, remained true to their duty, oath and their people.”
He also highlighted “the courage and sacrifice” of the pilots who died in their mission to stop the Wagnerite columns.
He also thanked the Wagner soldiers and commanders who stopped at the last line, who have “made the right decision”and to the Russian people for their “endurance, solidarity and patriotism.”
He also addressed the Russians with an appeal: “Thank you for your endurance, solidarity and patriotism.”
“This civic solidarity has shown that any blackmail, any attempt to create internal disturbances is doomed to failure,” Putin stressed. He finally thanked Lukashenko for his efforts and his “contribution to the peaceful resolution of the situation”.
Biden says the US had nothing to do with it
In addition, the ambassador in Moscow, Lynne Tracyhas acknowledged that the United States had contacts with the Russian authorities during Yevgeny Prigozhin’s attempted uprising.
According to the State Department spokesman, Matthew MillerWashington wanted to ensure that the Russian authorities would protect US diplomatic personnel if necessary.
In addition, the United States – and the US president has done it again Joe Biden this Monday,” he assured his Russian interlocutors who was not involved in the attempted uprisingsince, for Washington, it is about “an internal matter of Russia”Miller said during a press conference.
From the White House, the spokesman for the National Security Council, John Kirby, confirmed these contacts with the Russian authorities.
Miller insisted that the implications of what happened over the weekend in Russia are still unclear, and that it remains to be seen what will happen to the Wagner group and its involvement in the Kremlin-ordered invasion of Ukraine.