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Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during an event to mark the 1160th anniversary of Russia's statehood in Veliky Novgorod on September 21, 2022. (Photo by Ilya PITALEV / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by ILYA PITALEV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)

ICYMI: Putin Claims Failed Uprising Helped Russia’s Adversaries

The Russian president denounced the weekend uprising on Monday, calling it “traitors” who had supported the Ukrainian government and its allies and posing the greatest threat to his authority to date.

In a five-minute TV address just before midnight, Putin attempted to exude stability while speaking in a severe tone and appearing exhausted. In an effort to avoid sparking a new crisis, Putin sought to strike a compromise between criticising the uprising’s leaders while avoiding upsetting the majority of the mercenaries and their hardline followers, some of whom are furious with the Kremlin’s handling of the matter.

Putin commended the rank-and-file mercenaries for preventing “major bloodshed” in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive, which is straining his soldiers. And he added that, despite isolated indications of support for the rebellion, the country has maintained its unity.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the rebellion and the head of the mercenary Wagner Group, defended his brief uprising earlier in the day. He mocked the Russian military once more but claimed he wasn’t planning to overthrow Putin. Prigozhin had demanded a violent uprising to depose the military hierarchy on Friday.

Putin’s speech was preemptively made public by his spokesman, and Russian state media hailed it as something that would “define the fate of Russia.” In actuality, nothing ground-breaking came out of the address.

The speech was deemed inadequate by former Kremlin wordsmith and political commentator Abbas Gallyamov. He said in a Facebook post that it showed Putin was “acutely dissatisfied with how he looked in this whole story and is trying to correct the situation.”

Later, the Kremlin released footage of Putin meeting with key military, law enforcement, and security personnel, including Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, whom the movement had attempted to oust. Putin implied support for the troubled Shoigu when he hailed team members for their efforts over the weekend. An earlier video of Shoigu inspecting Ukrainian troops was made public by the government.

Putin, who opted not to mention Prigozhin, claimed that the mutiny’s planners attempted to make the group’s soldiers “shoot their own.”

According to him, “Russia’s enemies” had anticipated that the mutiny would split and undermine Russia, “but they miscalculated.”

President Joe Biden stated on Monday that the U.S. and NATO were not involved, breaking a silence among Western authorities on the rebellion. Biden said in remarks at the White House that he was hesitant to speak in public because he didn’t want to “give Putin any justification to blame this on the West and blame this on NATO.”

“We made it very clear that we were not involved; we had nothing to do with it,” he claimed.

According to Prigozhin, he took action to stop his private military business, Wagner, from being destroyed. In an 11-minute address delivered on Monday, he simply stated, “We started our march because of an injustice,” refusing to elaborate on his whereabouts or his objectives.

According to reports, the government’s requirement that Wagner fighters sign contracts with the Defence Ministry by July 1 in order to continue fighting may have essentially disbanded the group despite its battlefield victories in Ukraine. Additionally, Prigozhin claimed that his march was caused by the Russian military striking his soldiers.

The Wagner Group leader and military brass have been at odds for the whole of the war, and their conflict culminated in a mutiny when mercenaries departed the Ukraine to take control of a military headquarters in Rostov, in southern Russia. After less than 24 hours on Saturday, they rolled seemingly unchallenged for hundreds of kilometres towards Moscow before going back.