Defiant Putin makes statement after Wagner rebellion.mp4
Vladimir Putin has issued a desperate message to the Russian public, as he seeks to retain his authority after the shortlived mutiny by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenaries marked the most severe threat to his rule during two decades in power.
After backing down following an apparent 11th-hour intervention by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, Mr Prigozhin broke his silence on Monday, claiming his aborted march on Moscow gave a “masterclass” in what Vladimir Putin’s troops could have achieved with their botched invasion of Ukraine.
Despite admitting to shooting down Russian aircrafts, the mercenary boss insisted in an 11-minute video that his so-called “march for justice” had not been intended as a coup, but to demand accountability for mistakes in Ukraine by military leaders in Moscow and to protest plans to dismantle Wagner.
In an address on Monday night, Mr Putin insisted that he directly ordered that steps were taken “to avoid a lot of bloodshed” during the mutiny which he claimed was “resolutely rejected by society” – despite clips appearing to show Rostov-on-Don residents bringing Wagner troops food as they occupied the city.
Biden says Putin can’t blame mutiny on West and Nato: ‘We had nothing to do with it’
President Joe Biden has stated that the US and Nato were not involved in the brief mutiny in Russia that took place over the weekend.
Speaking at the White House, Mr Biden said he was cautious about speaking publicly because he wanted to give “Putin no excuse to blame this on the West and blame this on Nato.”
“We made clear that we were not involved, we had nothing to do with it,” he said.
The president spoke briefly about the events of the past 72 hours in Russia, where Wagner Group mercenaries seized a major hub of Russia’s defence sector before turning their columns towards the nation’s capital.
Mr Biden told reporters that he had convened the US’s European allies to discuss the political fallout from the mess, and “to make sure that we’re all on the same page”.
Western officials have been muted in their public comments on the mutiny as they carefully watched the series of events in the aborted military coup unfold.
Arpan Rai27 June 2023 04:44
Missing since Saturday night, Wagner chief’s whereabouts remain unclear
Last seen on Saturday night smiling and high-fiving bystanders from the back of an SUV, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said his fighters had halted their campaign to avert bloodshed.
On Saturday, Mr Prigozhin said he was leaving for Belarus under a deal brokered by its president Alexander Lukashenko. In yesterday’s remarks he said Mr Lukashenko had offered to let Wagner operate under a legal framework, but he did not elaborate further.
Last night, he released an 11-minute audio clip, stating that he and his fighters “went as a demonstration of protest, not to overthrow the government of the country”.
But as of today, it remains unclear where has he taken shelter.
The White House said it could not confirm whether the Wagner chief was in Belarus.
Russia’s three main news agencies reported that a criminal case against Mr Prigozhin had not been closed, an apparent reversal of an offer of immunity publicised as part of the deal that persuaded him to stand down.
Arpan Rai27 June 2023 04:20
Senior Russian lawmaker seeks ‘professional army’ of millions without mercenaries
Russia needs a contract army of at least seven million military and civilian personnel, on top of the current conscript army, a senior lawmaker in Moscow said.
Leonid Slutsky, a senior Russian lawmaker who has been an active member in a number of negotiations related to Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine, has said the seven-million strong army is needed to not require mercenary groups for country’s protection.
“The country does not need any PMCs (private military companies) and their likes,” Mr Slutsky, the head of the Liberal Democratic Party, said on Telegram. “There are problems in the regular army, but PMCs cannot solve them.”
Russia is reeling from a brief but rare military coup over the weekend when its powerful mercenary group Wagner’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin led a failed mutiny by taking control of the military command steering Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Wagner leader and his fighters started a march on Moscow and claimed to come within 200km of the Kremlin before aborting the military coup.
Arpan Rai27 June 2023 04:04
Zelensky makes trip to frontline and hands out awards, Kyiv says
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has visited two areas of the frontline against Russian troops in eastern and southern Ukraine, handing out awards and posing with troops in video footage posted online.
The president’s office posted three videos and said Mr Zelenskiy visited the two areas on Monday, in eastern Donetsk and in what was described as the Berdiansk sector in the south.
The first of the three videos showed the president handing out awards at an undisclosed indoor location and poring over maps with Oleksandr Syrskyi, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces.
“I have the honour to be here today, talk to the commander and first of all thank you, thank you for protecting our country, sovereignty, our families, children, Ukraine,” Mr Zelensky said.
“Everyone in the country understands, so you know, those who are not on the frontline, everyone understands perfectly that you are doing the most difficult work today and everyone knows that eastern direction is very difficult.”
Andy Gregory27 June 2023 04:01
Irish politicians condemn attack on Ukrainian actor in Dublin
Ireland’s national theatre and culture minister have condemned an attack on a Ukrainian actor in Dublin at the weekend.
Actor Oleksandr Hrekov had travelled to Dublin to perform in a Kyiv theatre company’s production of Brian Friel’s Translations. After the final performance on Saturday, he was attacked near the Abbey in what has been called an “unprovoked, random act of mindless violence”.
A spokesperson for the Abbey Theatre said that he required stitches and hospital treatment, but is “recovering well”.
Culture minister Catherine Martin has condemned the “cowardly attack”, along with other Irish politicians. She said that the production of Translations was “an expression of the solidarity of the Irish people with the people of Ukraine”.
Andy Gregory27 June 2023 03:02
Putin and UAE leaders held phone call on mutiny, claims Kremlin
The leaders of Russia and the United Arab Emirates held a phone call about Saturday’s aborted mutiny, the Kremlin has claimed.
According to the Kremlin, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahayan was interested in hearing an assessment of the situation in Russia in connection with the Wagner group mutiny.
“Having received comprehensive information, the Emirati leader declared full support for the actions of the Russian leadership,” the statement claimed.
Andy Gregory27 June 2023 02:01
Russian turmoil could help build support for Ukraine peace talks, officials say
The turmoil in Russia could persuade more countries to get on board with Ukraine’s attempts to build broad international support for a blueprint on peace talks, Denmark’s foreign minister has suggested.
“It is my interpretation that Putin is weakened, to some extent at least. And hopefully that could also have an impact on the rest of the world’s willingness to discuss a post-war situation in Ukraine,” Lars Lokke Rasmussen told reporters at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Monday.
Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has proposed that a summit could take place in July, but after talks last weekend officials said there was a lot of work still to be done and a date later in the year was most likely, with Copenhagen suggested as a venue, diplomats told Reuters.
“It’s not necessarily bad that the Ukrainians have a bit of time to also tease out perhaps a few more gains on the battlefield, profit perhaps from some of the instability we’ve seen this weekend,” another senior EU official told the news agency.
Andy Gregory27 June 2023 00:58
Former Kremlin ‘puppet master’ calls for end to Russian mercenary groups
Vladimir Putin’s former chief strategist has called for an end to mercenary groups in Russia after Wagner’s shortlived mutiny threatened Moscow, calling private armies “completely inconsistent” with Russian military culture.
Vladislav Surkov, known as the Kremlin “puppet master” by friends and foes alike before leaving his post in 2020, said “private military companies” were an idea imported from the US, created to engage in proxy wars, adding: “How can a military unit be private in our understanding?
“This is completely inconsistent with Russian political, managerial and military culture,” Mr Surkov said in an interview published by his associate Alexei Chesnakov, adding that such groups risked turning Russia into “some kind of Eurasian tribal zone” while dividing the command of the armed forces.
“Why do we need them today when we are openly participating in the battle for Ukraine? This is not a proxy war,” Surkov said. “The army must be strengthened not only with weapons, but also with unity of command.”
Casting Prigozhin as an “oligarch”, he detailed the criminal past of the mercenary, who aged 20 was sentenced to 13 years in jail for robbery and assault in 1981, including choking a woman until she lost consciousness, according to court documents from the time. “That’s all you need to know about Prigozhin,” he added.
Andy Gregory26 June 2023 23:59
Ukraine ‘peace summit’ talks make progress but long way to go, say officials
Ukraine’s work with allies to build broad international support for a peace blueprint has made progress but any summit to endorse a document is at least months away, officials have said.
Senior officials from Ukraine, G7 countries, the European Union and nations such as Brazil, India, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey met on Saturday in Denmark for talks on the concept, even as an abortive mutiny unfolded in Russia.
China had been invited to the talks but did not attend – highlighting the challenge faced by Ukraine and its allies in building a truly global, heavyweight coalition.
The Copenhagen meeting aimed to advance a proposal by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for a “peace summit” to endorse principles that would underpin any settlement to end the war that started with Russia’s invasion 16 months ago.
Ukrainian and Western officials have said that the summit would not involve Russia. Instead, they aim to rally a broad coalition behind the Kyiv government – including major countries that have decided not to give Ukraine military aid or impose sanctions on Russia – to increase diplomatic pressure on Moscow.
Reuters26 June 2023 23:31
Situation in Russia remains dynamic after aborted mutiny, says US State Department
The situation in Russia remains dynamic after the aborted Wagner mutiny, the US State Department has said, adding that it does not have any assessment about the whereabouts of the boss of mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“It is a certainly a new thing to see President Putin’s leadership directly challenged. It is a new thing to see Yevgeny Prigozhin directly questioning the rationale for this war and calling out that the war has been conducted essentially based on a lie,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters.
The events over the weekend reinforce Washington’s concerns about the instability Wagner brings when it enters any country, Mr Miller said.
He added that Washington does not know what will happen to Wagner in Ukraine or in Africa, but to the extent that the group or a successor organisation continues to operate in Africa, Ukraine or elsewhere, the United States will take actions to hold them accountable.
Andy Gregory26 June 2023 22:58
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