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“A stab in the back to our country”: Putin implores on soldiers to defy Prigozhin’s orders, vows to stop “armed rebellion”

Screenshot of Putin vowing to stop the “armed rebellion” of his former chef and now Wagner PMC leader Prigozhin
“A stab in the back to our country”: Putin implores on soldiers to defy Prigozhin’s orders, vows to stop “armed rebellion”

In an urgent televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to stop the “armed rebellion” of Yevgeny Prigozhin and implored on Wagner fighters to not follow his orders. He acknowledged that Russia had lost control over Rostov-on-Don, the headquarters for Russia’s invasion forces that PMC Wagner had claimed to take control of at 7:30 AM.

“Russia today is fighting the most challenging battle for its future, resisting the aggression of neo-Nazis and their masters,” Putin said, referring to his propaganda trope and pretext for the invasion of Ukraine.

“We are essentially targeted by the entire military, economic, and informational machine of the West. We are fighting for the life and safety of our people, for our sovereignty and independence, for the right to be and remain Russia, a state with a thousand-year history,” he said regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“This is a stab in the back to our country and our people,” Putin said, berating “excessive ambitions and personal interests” that led to “internal betrayal” of “their country,” “their people,” and Wagner fighters who “fought and gave their lives for Novorossiya, for the unity of the Russian world.”

We will protect our people and our statehood from any threats, including internal betrayal.

He vowed to protect Russia’s people and statehood from “those who try to organize a rebellion, pushing the country towards anarchy and fratricidal murder, Towards defeat, ultimately, and capitulation.”

“Our actions to protect the homeland from such threats will be harsh. Everyone who has consciously chosen the path of betrayal, who has prepared an armed rebellion, has chosen the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, will suffer immense punishment,” Putin said, stating that Russia’s Army and other state bodies have “received the necessary orders,” that “decisive actions will also be taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don” and that additional anti-terrorist measures are being introduced in Moscow, the Moscow Oblast, and in a number of other regions.”

“I call on those whom they are trying to drag into this crime, not to make a fatal and tragic, irreparable mistake… To stop participating in criminal activities,” Putin said.

It is unclear what outcome these measures will result in, as Prigozhin reported that Russian military units are joining his “march for justice” and 180 have surrendered at the Bugayevka checkpoint in Voronezh Oblast.

In the night of 23 June, Wagner financier Yevgeny Prigozhin accused the Russian MoD of striking a Wagner camp and announced a “march for justice,” vowing to “stop” Moscow’s top military leadership.

Russia’s official bodies denied any accusations of a strike on Wagner’s rear; the Russian FSB opened a criminal case against Prigozhin and Russia’s top brass called upon Wagner fighters to defy Prigozhin’s orders.

In the morning of 24 June, Prigozhin, who started his career as “Putin’s chef,” claimed control over military objects in Rostov-on-Don, a city that serves as the headquarters for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, stating that the Chief of General Staff ran away when he saw Wagner fighters approaching.

A conflict between Prigozhin and the Russian MoD has been months in the making, and Russian military leaders have sought to limit the role of the leader of Wagner, a private military company that has played a key role in Russia’s assault on Ukrainian cities.

Prigozhin had defied a demand by Russian Defense Ministry that Wagner Group members sign contracts directly, highlighting a deepening conflict within the Russian establishment. Instead, Prigozhin drafted his own “contract” and said he was awaiting an answer from Russia’s military leadership for it. Meanwhile, the deadline for the volunteer fighters to sign contracts with the MoD, 1 July, “is likely to be a key way-point in the feud,” the British intelligence assessed.

From decade in prison to “Putin’s chef”: who is Wagner CEO Evgeny Prigozhin

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