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Putin issues an address after Wagner mercenary group vows to topple Russia’s military leadership

Russian President Vladimir Putin vows to do “everything” to defend the country against armed mutiny from Wagner mercenary group.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the nation Saturday and vowed to defend the country and its people from an armed rebellion declared by mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Putin said the mutiny amounted to “a deadly threat to our statehood” and vowed “tough actions” in response. “All those who prepared the rebellion will suffer inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders,” Putin said.

He called Prigozhin’s actions, without referring to the owner of the Wagner private military company by name, “a betrayal” and “a treason.” 

He urged “those who are being dragged into this crime not to make a fatal and tragic, unique mistake, to make the only right choice — to stop participating in criminal acts.”

Putin condemned the rebellion at a time when Russia was “fighting the toughest battle for its future” with its war in Ukraine. “The entire military, economic, and information machine of the West is waged against us,” Putin said.

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“This battle, when the fate of our people is being decided, requires the unification of all forces, unity, consolidation, and responsibility.” An armed rebellion at a time like this is “a blow to Russia, to its people,” the president said.

“Those who plotted and organized an armed rebellion, who raised arms against his comrades-in-arms, betrayed Russia. And they will answer for it,” Putin said.

The owner of the Wagner private military contractor who called for an armed rebellion aimed at ousting Russia’s defense minister confirmed Saturday morning that he and his troops have reached a key Russian city after crossing the border from Ukraine.

The Russian Defense Ministry denounced the actions as a “criminal venture” and called on Wagner fighters to return to their deployment point. 

The ministry said it would ensure their safety.

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