Moscow [Russia], June 26 (ANI): In a major turn of events in the armed mutiny against Russia by the Wagner group, criminal charges against Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin was dropped by Kremlin.
The development comes after Wagner mercenary force chief decided to halt his forces’ march to Moscow under a deal brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Kremlin spokesperson on Saturday said the charges against the Wagner leader who led an armed mutiny against the country’s military leadership would be dropped, The New York Times reported.
The Kremlin spokesman Dmitri S Peskov said Prigozhin will go to Belarus, and the fighters who rebelled with him would not be prosecuted by law given their “service at the front.”
“Wagner fighters who did not participate in the mutiny can sign contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense,” New York Times quoted Peskov as saying.
Amid the tensions, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed French President Emmanuel Macron alleging that he “saw a chance to realize the threat of dealing Russia a fatal blow in the attempted mutiny” on June 24.
“Emmanuel Macron was right up there with the United States, as he said something like this, we are certainly watching the situation with caution, and it is evolving fast, but the main thing we saw – the split, the fragility of the regime and the army fully justifies our efforts toward continued military support to Ukraine,” Russia’s top diplomat told Russia Today, TASS reported.
“Macron clearly saw in the developments an opportunity to realize the threat of Ukraine dealing Russia a strategic blow, a mantra NATO leaders have been holding onto,” he stated.
According to Lavrov, like authorities in Ukraine and Western media, Macron was part of a single “machine” working against Moscow.
“As [Russian] President [Vladimir Putin] said in his address on Saturday, the entire Western military, economic and information machine has been set in motion against us,” the Russian foreign minister added.
Notably, CNN earlier reported that French President Emmanuel Macron is “closely” monitoring the situation in Russia.
In a statement released by the Elysee, “The President is monitoring the situation closely. We remain focused on supporting Ukraine.”
On Saturday morning, Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, in a Telegram post, announced that his men had crossed the border from Ukraine into southern Russia and were ready to go “all the way” against the Russian military, TASS News Agency reported.
He said he and his men would destroy anyone who stood in their way. “But we will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” he said, adding, “We are moving forward and will go until the end.”
This came shortly after the Belarusian president stated he was in talks with Prigozhin about an agreement to “de-escalate tensions.
“Taking to Twitter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus wrote, “At 9 p.m. tonight, the Presidents spoke again by phone. The President of Belarus Lukashenko informed the President of Russia about the results of negotiations with the leader of the Wagner Group. President Putin thanked his counterpart for the work done.”
The matter pertains to the rebellion launched by Wagner mercenary group against the Russian military facilities on Saturday.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, in a series of recordings released on social media on Saturday, announced that his troops had taken control of military facilities in two Russian cities.
Prigozhin said his forces have taken control of military facilities, including the airfield in Rostov-on-Don. Prigozhin’s actions came after he accused Russian forces of striking a Wagner military camp and killing “a huge amount” of his fighters. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied his claim and termed it an “information provocation.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko became the mediator and avoided a possible bloodbath by convincing the increasingly isolated Wagner Private Military Company (PMC) founder Yevgeny Prigozhin to give up his command and withdraw to Belarus, reported TASS News Agency.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the Belarusian President volunteered because he has been acquainted with Prigozhin for about 20 years.
“You will likely ask me why precisely President Lukashenko [became the mediator]? The thing is that Alexander Grigoryevich has known Prigozhin personally for a long time, about 20 years, and this was his personal initiative which was coordinated with President Putin,” the Kremlin official said.
“The two presidents, indeed, agreed on President Lukashenko providing mediating efforts on settling the situation [with the Wagner PMC]. We hold this readiness in high esteem,” the Kremlin official concluded, as per TASS News Agency.
Earlier on June 24, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin reacted over the rebellion in a televised address to the nation said that the “armed mutiny” by the Wagner Group is a “stab in the back” and vowed to punish those who were on the “path of treason” or anyone who takes up arms against the Russian military.
In his televised address to the nation, Putin said, ” Renegade actions against those fighting in the front is a stab in the back of our country,” CNN reported.
Putin also pledged a harsh response and punishment to those who plan “an armed rebellion.
Putin in his address said “All kinds of political adventurers and foreign forces, who divided the country and tore it apart, profited from their own interests. We will not let this happen again. We will protect both our people and our statehood from any threats, including internal treachery,” CNN reported.
Putin described Wagner’s actions as “betrayal” and stressed that “any actions that fracture our unity” are “a stab in the back of our country and our people.” Calling the situation in Rostov-on-Don “difficult,” Putin in his address noted that the work of civil and military administration had been blocked in Rostov.
Prigozhin, the head of the mercenary group, also hit back at Putin post this and said that the Russian President is “deeply mistaken” and the group is a patriot, the Washington Post reported.
He was referring to Putin’s remarks alleging that the Wagner group betrayed Russia by “staging hostilities” inside the country.
In an audio message posted by his press service, Prigozhin said on Saturday, “Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president is deeply mistaken”.
Calling Russia, a country of “corruption, deceit and bureaucracy”, he said that the group will continue to fight.
“We are patriots of our motherland, we have been fighting and continue to fight, all Wagner fighters, and no one plans to go and confess at the request of the president, the FSB [Federal Security Service] or anyone else, because we do not want the country to continue to live in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy,” the Post quoted Prigozhin.
On expected lines, the issue has also drawn international reactions.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the dispute between Russia’s President and Wagner mercenary exposed the “real crack” in Vladimir Putin’s reign,
To a question on whether he knew Wagner will abort his plan, Blinken in an interview with Jonathan Karl for ABC’s “This Week”, Blinken said, “I don’t know, and I’m not sure we’ll fully know, or it may be something that unfolds in the coming – in the coming days and weeks. We simply don’t have a clear picture of that. And this really is fundamentally an internal matter for the Russians. We’re seeing it unfold. Again, we saw the rising tensions over several months that led to this. But exactly where this goes, we don’t know”, according to a statement released by State Department.
“But what we do know is that we’ve seen real cracks emerge – again, a direct challenge to Putin’s authority surfacing very publicly: the notion that this war, this aggression by Russia was being pursued under false pretenses; the notion that Ukraine or NATO somehow presented a threat to Russia that it had to deal with militarily. That’s now much more out in the open than it’s been. What that leads to, again, we just don’t know at this point,” he added.
On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also took a jibe at Moscow and said that everyone who chooses the path of evil “destroys” himself.
Taking to Twitter, Zelenskyy said, “Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself. Who sends columns of troops to destroy the lives of another country and cannot stop them from fleeing and betraying when life resists. Who terrorizes with missiles, and when they are shot down, humiliates himself to receive Shahed drones. Who despises people and throws hundreds of thousands into the war, in order to eventually barricade himself in the Moscow region from those whom he himself armed”.
“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness. And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later. It is also obvious. Ukraine is able to protect Europe from the spread of Russian evil and chaos,” he added.
What makes the rebellion really significant is the fact that Wagner group played instrumental role in Russia’s ‘special military operations’ in Ukraine.
The mercenary group played a significant role in Russia gaining “complete control” of Bakhmut”, which was one of the most intense since the liberation of Donbass in 2014.
In May, the Wagner group in a special military operation in Ukraine gained a “complete control” of Bakhmut, Russian news agency Tass reported.
Following the capture in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated the assault teams of the Wagner private military and Russian troops.
The Russia-Ukraine war that started on February 24, 2022 has taken numerous lives and the war continues to escalate between the two nations even now. (ANI)
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