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Vladimir Putin accuses Wagner Group leaders of betraying Russia

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Russian president Vladimir Putin has condemned the organisers of final weekend’s shortlived mutiny, saying they’d betrayed their nation and the fighters of their command.

In his first public feedback for the reason that finish of warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s armed rebellion on Saturday, Putin advised Wagner paramilitaries to signal contracts with Russia’s defence ministry, go residence or go away the nation for Belarus.

The Russian president’s indignant five-minute speech on Monday insisted Wagner’s revolt had been doomed to fail from the outset. In his enchantment to Wagner’s rank-and-file, Putin stated the mutiny’s organisers had “betrayed the nation and those that have been with them”, including many of the group’s fighters have been “patriots of Russia” who had been “used” by their command.

The pinnacle of the Wagner militia has denied making an attempt to overthrow the Russian authorities. Reiterating his criticism of the nation’s defence institution, Prigozhin stated in an 11-minute voice recording posted on Telegram on Monday that his aim had been to protest in opposition to a latest choice to disband Wagner and display the weak point of Russia’s home defences.

“We didn’t have the aim of toppling the prevailing regime, which is lawfully elected, as we’ve got stated many occasions,” stated Prigozhin, who didn’t check with Putin by title.

As an alternative, he needed to “forestall the destruction” of the paramilitary group and maintain to account those that, “with their unprofessional actions, made an enormous quantity of errors” throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He stated that if the common military had acquired the identical stage of coaching and morale as Wagner, the warfare in Ukraine, which started on February 24 final yr, “might have taken not more than a day”.

“We demonstrated the extent of organisation that the Russian military ought to have,” Prigozhin stated, claiming that his forces crossed a complete of 780km and stopped simply 200km in need of Moscow. “It was a masterclass in how February 24 2022 ought to’ve regarded.”

Till his personal message on Monday afternoon, Prigozhin had additionally not been heard from since he introduced that his convoy would flip again moderately than persevering with on to Moscow. “Our choice to show round got here from two necessary elements,” he added. “The primary was that we didn’t need to spill Russian blood. The second, we have been marching to display our protest, to not unseat the federal government.”

Prigozhin’s revolt on Saturday has been extensively seen as essentially the most severe menace to Putin’s rule since he took workplace 23 years in the past.

“This was a part of a battle throughout the Russian system,” US president Joe Biden stated on Monday. “We had nothing to do with it.”

Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, described Prigozhin as “the monster appearing in opposition to his creator” and stated the weekend’s chaos proved that Putin’s “army energy is cracking”.

However Ben Wallace, UK defence secretary, performed down the influence on Putin’s authority, sustaining that “we shouldn’t essentially over-credit the destabilisation, that someway this can be a huge derailment of the Kremlin”.

Chatting with the Royal United Companies Institute think-tank, Wallace emphasised that the warfare in Ukraine was nonetheless being prosecuted by Valery Gerasimov, military chief of workers, and Sergei Shoigu, defence minister, Prigozhin’s essential hate figures throughout the Russian system.

State media reported on Monday that Prigozhin nonetheless confronted prosecution, regardless of the Kremlin saying on the weekend that the authorized case in opposition to Prigozhin “can be ended”.

Prigozhin has railed in opposition to Gerasimov and Shoigu for a lot of months, accusing them of killing tens of 1000’s of Russian troopers by means of corruption and poor planning.

The long-running feud got here to a head in June after legal guidelines have been handed to make all irregular forces — of which Wagner is the biggest and most distinguished — pledge allegiance to the defence ministry whereas subsuming them into its construction.

Wagner was keen to proceed as ordered, Prigozhin claimed, and was packing up its army gear final week, with plans to move to Rostov-on-Don in a convoy on June 30 handy over every thing to the military.

Then on Friday, he claimed, Wagner base camps have been hit with air strikes by the Russian army, killing greater than two dozen of his troops. The same account was denied by the defence ministry on Friday night.

Prigozhin stated the militia not solely managed to grab Rostov-on-Don, a serious southern metropolis and army headquarters, but in addition managed to disarm the army obstacles positioned in its means and take over all of the bases and airfields that lay in its path.

Residents, furthermore, had been completely happy to see Wagner cross, Prigozhin claimed. “Civilians met us with Russian and Wagner flags . . . A lot of them proceed to jot down phrases of assist, and others are disillusioned that we stopped.”