- Russian President Putin vows to crack down on 'armed rebellion,' accusing participants of treason.
- Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, dismisses Putin’s accusations, calling his forces patriots resisting corruption.
- This feud between the Wagner Group and the Kremlin marks a significant internal challenge for Russia, with potential implications for the ongoing war in Ukraine.
In a recent declaration, Russian President Vladimir Putin vows a harsh retribution against everyone involved in what he calls an “armed uprising,” and levies accusations of treason against them.
Broadcasted on Saturday morning, Putin reached out to those coerced or lured into this hazardous endeavor – an audacious armed revolt. His stern remarks follow the allegations made by Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the private military company Wagner Group, who claimed that the Kremlin intentionally bombed Wagner’s troops. The Ministry of Defense in Russia has vehemently denied such claims, dismissing Prigozhin’s statements as a ploy to spread disinformation. Prigozhin further questioned the authenticity of Russia's reasoning behind its invasion of Ukraine.
Portraying the unsolicited war in Ukraine as a battle for the future of Russia, Putin emphasized the need for unity among Russian forces. He reiterated his belief that internal discord poses a lethal threat to Russian statehood and national unity. He assured that his administration will spare no effort to protect the nation and its people from any threat, including internal subversion, labeling the recent actions as outright treason driven by extravagant ambitions and self-interests.
Contrarily, Prigozhin responded to Putin’s comments, asserting that the latter is profoundly mistaken. He insisted that the Wagner forces are true patriots and that they resist subjugation to corruption, deception, and bureaucracy.
Additionally, Putin touched upon the grim situation in Rostov-on-Don, a southwestern Russian city near Ukraine, and promised to rectify the conditions there. Prigozhin, however, claims that his mercenary forces now control this key city. His assertions are yet to be verified. The feud between Moscow and Wagner, according to the U.K. defense ministry, represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times, even escalating into an outright military confrontation.
In a drastic shift of alliances, Putin’s determination to hold the rebellion organizers accountable marks a severe fracture in his relationship with Prigozhin, a long-standing ally. The discord between Moscow and the Wagner Group, a key ally in Russia's war efforts, is growing, as evidenced by Prigozhin’s grievances about insufficient ammunition supplies and criticism of the defense officials’ strategy in Ukraine.
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