Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to restore calm and confidence in his leadership after a revolt by mercenaries from the Wagner group led by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
Prigozhin released a video attacking the Russian government last week after he claimed that the Russian military shelled a Wagner position in Ukraine.
Prigozhin and his troops departed from Ukraine and embarked on a ‘march of justice’ on Moscow, rapidly advancing to the outskirts of the capital city.
His troops left and returned to Ukraine after negotiations brokered by Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko led to a peaceful resolution, with Putin granting amnesty to Wagner soldiers.
During his first public speech since the revolt was quashed, Putin praised the mercenaries for avoiding ‘major bloodshed’ in the country.
Putin also expressed for embattled Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who Prigozhin sought to remove in his revolt.
Prigozhin has repeatedly attacked Shoigu for failing to provide his troops ammunition in the invasion of Ukraine, and he has attacked other military leadership for failures in strategy.
Despite attempting to reconcile with the rank-and-file soldiers who carried out the revolt, Putin called the leaders of the march ‘traitors’ and ‘enemies of Russia’ in his speech.
Prigozhin and his soldiers were dissatisfied with a demand by Putin that they sign an agreement that would effectively dissolve the Wagner group by rolling the mercenaries in to Russia’s regular army.
Putin maintained that they will still be forced to sign the order by July 1st.
The Associated Press Reports–
Putin's full speech today: "Kiev and their Western masters wanted to see Russian soldiers kill each other. They wanted to see Russian servicemen and civilians die and ultimately to see Russia defeated and the Russian society split apart, in a bloodbath." pic.twitter.com/E9jDm7tbUK
— sarah (@sahouraxo) June 26, 2023
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday blasted organizers of a weekend revolt, the gravest threat yet to his power, as “traitors” who played into the hands of Ukraine’s government and its allies.
Speaking in a stern tone and looking tired in a five-minute TV address near midnight, Putin sought to project stability. He tried to strike a balance between criticizing the uprising’s perpetrators to prevent another crisis, and not antagonizing the bulk of the mercenaries and their hardline supporters, some of whom are incensed at the Kremlin’s handling of the situation.
Putin, whose troops are stretched thin in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, praised the rank and file mercenaries for not letting the situation descend into “major bloodshed.”