The attempted insurrection by the chief of the Wagner private military company, Evgeny Prigozhin, amounts to a betrayal of Russia and its people, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an address to the nation on Saturday morning. He also vowed that the country’s law enforcement agencies will take decisive actions to restore order.
In a televised speech, Putin appealed to Russian service members and those “who have been drawn into this criminal gamble by deceit or threats,” without naming Prigozhin in particular.
He noted that Moscow is engaged in a historic struggle to safeguard its future while “repelling aggression from neo-Nazis and their masters” in the West.
“We are fighting for the lives and safety of our people, for our sovereignty and independence. For the right to be and remain Russia,” the president said, urging fellow citizens to join forces and put aside all the divisions that could be exploited by foreign adversaries.
That’s why the actions that split our unity are, in fact, apostasy of our people, of our comrades-in-arms… This is a stab in the back to our country and our people.
Acording to the Russian leader, it was excessive ambitions and personal interests that resulted in this betrayal of the country and its people.
“Let us defend both our people and our statehood against all threats, including internal treason, and what we have encountered is precisely this treason. Excessive ambition and personal interests have led to betrayal, betrayal of our country, our people and the cause for which the fighters and commanders of the Wagner Group fought and died side by side with our other units and detachments,” Putin said on Saturday.
Putin underscored that any discord must be put aside during Russia’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine, as the country’s army is fighting valiantly against the Kiev regime. Those responsible for the attempted mutiny would face inevitable consequences, he emphasized.
“All those who deliberately took the path of treason, who prepared an armed uprising, who took the path of insurrection and terrorist methods, will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer to the law and to our people,” Putin said.
Russia’s armed forces, other state bodies have received the necessary orders in connection with the latest developments, and additional anti-terrorist measures are currently being taken in Moscow, the Moscow Region and a number of other regions, Vladimir Putin clarified.
“Decisive measures are also being taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don. It remains complicated, with the work of civilian and military administrative bodies effectively blocked,” he said.
The President also recalled the tragic developments in Russia in 1917, when the country was fighting World War I, stressing that the Russian leadership “will not let this happen again.” Pointing out that any internal turmoil is “a mortal threat to our statehood, to the nation,” Vladimir Putin pledged tough measures to protect the country from such a threat.
Earlier in the day, footage and audio attributed to Wagner troops and Prigozhin surfaced online alleging that a “missile attack” had been launched at a Wagner camp, and that the strike was “delivered from the rear, that is by forces of the Russian Defense Ministry.” The voice attributed to Prigozhin appeared to call for the ouster of the Defense Ministry’s leadership. The footage and audio were immediately jumped on by Ukrainian and US state-funded media outlets, which have been reporting heavily on Prigozhin’s criticism of Russian generals in recent weeks.
Russian regional authorities said that law-enforcement agencies were doing everything necessary to protect the general public. At the same time, they noted Ukraine was seeking to spread disinformation about the introduction of curfews.
Wagner units and Russian Army forces jointly took part in the battle of Artemovsk (Bakhumut), liberating the Donbass city in late May after eight months of heavy fighting which pinned down large concentrations of Ukrainian troops, allowed Russia to train up its mobilized reserves, and resulted in a major defeat for Kiev ahead of its now-stalled counteroffensive.