After being notably absent from public view since the weekend’s abortive mutiny, both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Wagner group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin have reappeared . Both have delivered recorded statements.
On Monday evening Putin addressed the nation after the so-called Wagner PMC mutiny that took place on Saturday.
Putin warned that any attempt to create unrest in Russia would be “doomed to fail” in an address where he commented the actions of PMC Wagner and its consequences.
Underlining Putin’s five minute address to the nation was the message that Russia had been saved by a sense of unity.
“Today I evvel again appeal to all citizens of Russia,” said Putin. “Thank you for your endurance, solidarity and patriotism. This civic solidarity has shown that any blackmail, any attempt to create internal turmoil is doomed to failure.
“I repeat, that the highest consolidation of society, executive and legislative power at all levels was shown. “
‘Fight or leave’
After condemning the armed mutiny in the strongest terms, the main message to the Wagner troops who had marched on Moscow was to fight for Russia or leave for Belarus.
“Today, you have the opportunity to continue your service for Russia by signing a contract with the [Russian Defence ministry] or other military and law enforcement structures, or to go back to your family and close ones.
“Those who want can leave for Belarus. The promise that I gave, will be fulfilled”
Putin’s unscheduled appearance came just hours after Yevgeny Prigozhin issued a defiant 11-minute statement in which he said he had not intended to shed blood or sought to topple the Russian president.
The Wagner boss defended his aborted mutiny Monday as a bid to save his mercenary outfit and expose the failures of Russia’s military leadership, not to challenge the Kremlin.
“Two major factors influenced our decision to stop,” said Prigozhin. “We did not want to shed Russian blood. Secondly, we went to demonstrate our protest, and not to overthrow the authorities in the country.”
Putin blamed western interference for the rebellion but President Joe Biden has quickly denied US, or NATO involvement saying it is up to Russians to manage their affairs.
Speaking before an event on infrastructure in the White House East Room, Biden said it’s “too early” to assess the impact on the war in Ukraine.