Monday, May 20, 2024

Those dividing Russia will be punished: Putin on alleged Wagner mutiny

Describing action of mutineers who want to topple Russia’s military leadership as a “stab in the back”, President Vladimir Putin on Saturday warned of inevitable punishment for those dividing the country, media reports said.

Addressing the nation, Putin said: “Some Russians have been tricked into a criminal adventure”, without mentioning Wagner mercenary group, BBC reported.

Describing the action of mutineers as “stab in the back”, the Russian President said that those dividing the country will be punished.

In an indirect reference to the Wagner mercenary gorup, Putin said: “High ambition of some have led to high treason.”

All necessary orders have been given to deal with the crisis, he said.

Surprisingly, Putin at the end of his TV address mentioned the Wagner mercenary group but only to praise them for fighting for Moscow.

On Friday night, the Kremlin ordered the arrest of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin after Russian intelligence accused him of calling for an “armed rebellion”.

Late Friday night, the Federal Security Service (FSB) urged Wagner mercenaries to “stop the columns” and detain their leader after the latter vowed retaliation over the Russian military allegedly killing a “huge amount” of Wagner fighters during a strike on a camp earlier in the day, reports CNN.

Russian state TV also interrupted programming Friday night to report a Defence Ministry statement claiming Prigozhin’s comments “did not correspond to reality” and demanded him to halt “illegal actions”.

In the wake of the developments, security has been stepped up around Moscow and in the city of Rostov near southeast Ukraine, according to state media reports.

Earlier on Friday, Prigozhin claimed that his forces crossed the border into Russia from Ukraine, but did not give any proof to back his allegation, reports the BBC.

“Many dozens, tens of thousands of lives, of Russian soldiers will be punished. I ask that nobody put up any resistance.”

He also said the “evil” in the Russian military leadership must be stopped and vowed to “march for justice”, but the Wagner chief clarified that he was not attempting a military coup

According to the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin is aware of the situation and is receiving “constant” updates.

Since Russia launched its ongoing war against Ukraine in February 2022, there has been a power struggle between Prigozhin and Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, media reports say.

Their battle initially centred around Bakhmut — while the regular Russian army struggled elsewhere, the Wagner group managed to make gains.

Prigozhin used his forces’ success as an opportunity to build his own profile and criticise the troops under Shoigu, reports the BBC.

He accused the Defence Ministry of denying his mercenaries ammunition, even threatening to pull out.

And when victories occurred, both sides tried to take credit.

Prigozhin, has however, always avoided criticising President Putin.

In the hours before the alleged attack on the Wagner camp, he posted more inflammatory comments on social media, accusing the Defence Ministry of deceiving Putin about the threat posed by Ukraine ahead of his February 2022 invasion, reports CNN.

He also questioned Russian motives for the war.

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