Receive free Yevgeny Prigozhin updates
We’ll ship you a myFT Daily Digest e-mail rounding up the most recent Yevgeny Prigozhin information each morning.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has condemned the organisers of final weekend’s shortlived mutiny, saying they’d betrayed their nation and the fighters of their command.
In his first public feedback for the reason that finish of warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin’s armed uprising on Saturday, Putin advised Wagner paramilitaries to signal contracts with Russia’s defence ministry, go house or go away the nation for Belarus.
The Russian president’s offended five-minute speech on Monday insisted Wagner’s revolt had been doomed to fail from the outset. In his enchantment to Wagner’s rank-and-file, Putin stated the mutiny’s organisers had “betrayed the country and those who were with them”, including most of the group’s fighters have been “patriots of Russia” who had been “used” by their command.
The head of the Wagner militia has denied making an attempt to overthrow the Russian authorities. Reiterating his criticism of the nation’s defence institution, Prigozhin stated in an 11-minute voice recording posted on Telegram on Monday that his purpose had been to protest in opposition to a current resolution to disband Wagner and reveal the weak spot of Russia’s home defences.
“We didn’t have the goal of toppling the existing regime, which is lawfully elected, as we have said many times,” stated Prigozhin, who didn’t seek advice from Putin by title.
Instead, he wished to “prevent the destruction” of the paramilitary group and maintain to account those that, “with their unprofessional actions, made a huge amount of mistakes” throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He stated that if the common military had acquired the identical degree of coaching and morale as Wagner, the war in Ukraine, which started on February 24 final 12 months, “may have taken no more than a day”.
“We demonstrated the level of organisation that the Russian army should have,” Prigozhin stated, claiming that his forces crossed a complete of 780km and stopped simply 200km brief of Moscow. “It was a masterclass in how February 24 2022 should’ve looked.”
Until his personal message on Monday afternoon, Prigozhin had additionally not been heard from since he introduced that his convoy would flip again fairly than persevering with on to Moscow. “Our decision to turn around came from two important factors,” he added. “The first was that we did not want to spill Russian blood. The second, we were marching to demonstrate our protest, not to unseat the government.”
Prigozhin’s revolt on Saturday has been widely seen as the most serious threat to Putin’s rule since he took workplace 23 years in the past.
“This was part of a struggle within the Russian system,” US president Joe Biden stated on Monday. “We had nothing to do with it.”
Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, described Prigozhin as “the monster acting against his creator” and stated the weekend’s chaos proved that Putin’s “military power is cracking”.
But Ben Wallace, UK defence secretary, performed down the influence on Putin’s authority, sustaining that “we shouldn’t necessarily over-credit the destabilisation, that somehow this is a massive derailment of the Kremlin”.
Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute think-tank, Wallace emphasised that the struggle in Ukraine was nonetheless being prosecuted by Valery Gerasimov, military chief of workers, and Sergei Shoigu, defence minister, Prigozhin’s main hate figures throughout the Russian system.
State media reported on Monday that Prigozhin nonetheless confronted prosecution, regardless of the Kremlin saying on the weekend that the authorized case in opposition to Prigozhin “will be ended”.
Prigozhin has railed in opposition to Gerasimov and Shoigu for a lot of months, accusing them of killing tens of hundreds of Russian troopers by corruption and poor planning.
The long-running feud got here to a head in June after legal guidelines have been handed to make all irregular forces — of which Wagner is the biggest and most outstanding — pledge allegiance to the defence ministry whereas subsuming them into its structure.
Wagner was keen to proceed as ordered, Prigozhin claimed, and was packing up its army tools final week, with plans to move to Rostov-on-Don in a convoy on June 30 handy over every little thing to the military.
Then on Friday, he claimed, Wagner base camps have been hit with air strikes by the Russian army, killing greater than two dozen of his troops. The same account was denied by the defence ministry on Friday night.
Prigozhin stated the militia not solely managed to grab Rostov-on-Don, a significant southern metropolis and army headquarters, but in addition managed to disarm the army obstacles positioned in its approach and take over all of the bases and airfields that lay in its path.
Residents, furthermore, had been pleased to see Wagner cross, Prigozhin claimed. “Civilians met us with Russian and Wagner flags . . . Many of them continue to write words of support, and others are disappointed that we stopped.”