Vladimir Putin has warned “any blackmail is doomed to failure” – days after an attempted rebellion led by Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.
The Russian president was speaking from the Kremlin – and vowed that those involved in the weekend’s “criminal activity” will be brought to justice.
Putin went on to claim that “neo-Nazis in Kyiv and the West” had wanted Russian soldiers to kill each other.
He also thanked the Russian public for its “support, patriotism and solidarity” since the rebellion and Belarus’s president Alexander Lukashenko for a peaceful resolution.
“Virtually the entirety of Russian society, all of them, have been united in the face of the responsibility to defend the homeland,” Putin said.
The Russian leader added that most Wagner mercenaries were “patriots” who were “used” by organisers of the rebellion.
He insisted that the uprising was “doomed to fail” and that “its organisers, even though they lost their sense of right and wrong, couldn’t have failed to realise that”.
Putin also claimed Ukraine was involved in the weekend’s events and called the revolt “revenge for their failed counteroffensive”.
Earlier on Monday, Prigozhin revealed he ordered his fighters to halt their advance on Moscow because he “did not want to shed Russian blood”.
Now reportedly in Belarus, the mercenary chief also insisted that many Russian civilians were very supportive of Wagner’s “march for justice” – and some were disappointed when it stopped.
A top White House official has denied that the US had any involvement in Saturday’s rebellion – and said it had “good, direct communication with the Russians over the weekend”.
US President Joe Biden said earlier that it was important leaders gave Putin “no excuse” to blame the mutiny on the West or NATO.
“We made it clear we were not involved,” the president said. “We had nothing to do with it.
“This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”