Russia defense chief Sergei Shoigu breaks silence on Wagner revolt

Vladimir Putin’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, commended the “loyalty” of Russia’s armed forces in his first known public remarks on the Wagner Group uprising that sought his ouster.

“This [was] an attempt to destabilize the situation in Russia on June 23-25,” Shoigu told military leadership on a conference call, according to a translation from Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

“These plans failed primarily because the personnel of the armed forces showed loyalty to the oath and military duty.”

The 68-year-old also downplayed the ramifications of the rebellion on Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine before voicing gratitude to Moscow’s military “for their conscientious service.”

Shoigu repeatedly drew the ire of Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who accused the defense chief of incompetence and failing to support the mercenary force before directing his men to march toward Moscow late last month.

Russia defense minister Sergei Shoigu.
Sergei Shoigu, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has served as the country’s defense minister since 2012.
Yevgeny Prigozhin
Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the Wagner Group uprising last month, had long feuded with the Russian Defense Ministry.
Wagner Group members in Rostov-on-Don, June 24, 2023.
Members of the Wagner Group military company guard an area with a tank in a street in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, Saturday, June 24, 2023.

The final straw for Prigozhin, once Putin’s personal caterer, appeared to be plans to fold the Wagner Group into the regular military. On the eve of Wagner’s march toward Moscow, Prigozhin also leveled unconfirmed allegations that his forces were struck by the Russian military.

On June 24, Wagner forces briefly occupied the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don before marching to within 120 miles of Moscow.

Ultimately, Prigozhin backed down and headed into apparent exile in Belarus as part of a deal brokered by that country’s authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko.

Yevgeny Prigozhin,
Many foreign policy experts have openly raised concerns about Yevgeny Prigozhin’s safety now that he has crossed Russian President Vladimir Putin.
social media /East2west News
Yevgeny Prigozhin poses for a selfie with an admirer before leaving Rostov-on-Don
Yevgeny Prigozhin poses for a photo with a local civilian prior to leaving Rostov-on-Don on June 24, 2023.

Ukrainians seized on the aborted mutiny as a boost for their ongoing counteroffensive. The Kyiv government claims to have clinched incremental territorial gains since the offensive began last month.

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