Live Updates: Vladimir Putin Highlights Unity Against Rebellion, Blames Wagner Leader Prigozhin

The Role of Unity in Overcoming the Uprising Led by Yevgeny Prigozhin In an impactful televised address on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the individuals behind the recent uprising as “traitors” and “enemies of Russia.”

He emphasized the importance of unity within the country to successfully quash the rebellion, which was orchestrated by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the mercenary Wagner Group.

During his five-minute address, Putin commended Russian patriotism as the driving force that swiftly brought an end to the budding coup attempt.

He expressed his gratitude towards the military personnel, law enforcement officers, and special servicemen who bravely stood against the rebels, remaining dedicated to their duty, oath, and the people they serve. It was through the resolute action of the Russian society that they were able to navigate through this arduous situation.

Appreciation for the Loyalty of Most Mercenaries and Blame on Prigozhin

Putin extended his gratitude to the majority of the mercenaries for preventing the situation from descending into bloodshed.

He acknowledged that many of them were loyal Russians who had been misled, thereby largely attributing the blame to Prigozhin, his former ally who had accepted an arrangement to seek refuge in Belarus. However, the current whereabouts of Prigozhin remain unconfirmed.

Prigozhin, who consistently criticized Russian military leaders and their war strategies, claimed that his fighters would not comply with the Defense Ministry’s requirement to join the regular forces by July 1. Nevertheless, Putin implied that they would indeed follow orders.

“We were aware that the overwhelming majority of the fighters and commanders within the Wagner Group are Russian patriots, devoted to their people and their nation,” Putin affirmed. “Their commitment was evident on the battlefield, particularly in the liberation of the Donbass and Novorossiya.”

Prigozhin’s Clarification: Protest, Not Coup

Earlier on Monday, Prigozhin released his first statement following the aborted march on Moscow over the weekend. He clarified that he called off the campaign to prevent the spilling of Russian blood, emphasizing that the goal was to voice protest rather than effect regime change.

Prigozhin distanced himself from taking responsibility for the deaths of over a dozen pilots and Russian individuals during the brief revolt, asserting that his troops were attacked.

Furthermore, he argued that if Russian troops had advanced into Ukraine on the first day of the invasion with the same speed as his Wagner troops, the ongoing 16-month-long war would have concluded in just one day.

“Our march commenced due to a sense of injustice,” Prigozhin explained in an 11-minute video statement. He claimed that his troops were met with enthusiastic crowds waving the flag of the Wagner Group fighters.

Uncertainty Surrounding Prigozhin’s Future

Prigozhin’s march, which began on Friday, was halted the following day when a resolution was brokered by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

According to the agreement, Prigozhin would seek refuge in Belarus, and neither he nor his troops would face charges of treason or other offenses.

However, Russia’s RIA Novosti state news agency cited anonymous sources from the prosecutor general’s office, indicating that the criminal case against Prigozhin has not been closed.

With an estimated 50,000 soldiers under his command, Prigozhin and his mercenary troops have played a pivotal role in Russia’s territorial ambitions in the fiercely contested Donbas region of Ukraine.

Prigozhin has consistently criticized Russia’s military leaders for their alleged failure to provide adequate support and their perceived underperformance of regular troops.

As Ukraine gains momentum with its counteroffensive, the internal divisions within Russia’s military are becoming more pronounced.

Within three weeks, Ukraine has managed to reclaim approximately 115 square miles of land previously occupied by Russia, surpassing the territorial gains Russia achieved during its entire winter offensive, as stated by British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace on Monday.

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