Russian military and its law enforcement agencies prevented a major internal armed conflict in the country last week, President Vladimir Putin has said, referring to the aborted mutiny by Wagner Group chief Evgeny Prigozhin.
“In fact, you have stopped a civil war, acting precisely and cohesively,” he told a group of service members, who gathered at the Kremlin on Tuesday to receive state decorations for their endeavors last Friday and Saturday.
The response of the people, on whom Russia’s security depends, enabled all critical defenses and government systems to continue operating, the president said. He noted that no units had been pulled back from the frontline of the military operation in Ukraine.
The president also called for a minute’s silence to remember the military pilots who were killed by Wagner forces during the revolt. Putin commended the officers, who, he said, died with honor as they carried out their duty.
On Friday evening, Prigozhin directed his forces to march towards large Russian cities with the stated goal of removing several generals whom he accused of treason. A number of military aircraft were shot down during the march.
The insurrection was aborted the following day after Belarus mediated a deal with Moscow. Prigozhin explained his decision by saying he wanted to avoid major bloodshed. Putin said his government would not prosecute the Wagner troops or their leader. He invited the soldiers to join the ranks of regular Russian troops, retire from active service, or follow Prigozhin to Belarus, which has agreed to host him.
MINSK, June 27. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said that the attempted mutiny by the private military company Wagner will give an opportunity to the West to hit at the sore spots in Russia and Belarus.
“Let’s face the worst – that we are in for hard times,” he said, the BelTA news agency reported.
Western officials are sure to draw certain conclusions from Wagner’s march on Moscow, the president said.
“They will coordinate their work, focus and hit at the sorest spots,” Lukashenko said.
He backed Russian President Vladimir Putin in saying that people need to be united in the face of the latest challenges.
Lukashenko also called for turning the page on the attempted rebellion, if only to circle back to it at a later time.
“We need to cool down and turn this page. A time will come when, if need be, we will come back to this subject. But now is the time to cool down. Let’s not inflame tensions and come down on anyone,” he said.
Putin called the budget expenses for the maintenance of PMC “Wagner”
The maintenance of a private military company (PMC) “Wagner” cost the Russian budget almost 200 billion rubles in the period from May 2022 to May 2023. Such expenses of the state for the activities of the group were called by President Vladimir Putin, writes TASS.
The main amount of the company’s maintenance amounted to 86.2 billion rubles, of which 70.3 billion was the monetary allowance of fighters. Another $ 15.8 billion was allocated for incentive payments to PMC members.
In addition, the state spent more than 110 billion rubles on insurance payments to Wagner fighters and their families. Also, during this period, the Concord company, which supplies food products to the army, owned by the head of the PMC Yevgeny Prigozhin, received 80 billion rubles from the budget.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told BBC last week that there will be no Ukrainian presidential election in 2024 if martial law is still in effect, The New Voice of Ukraine reported.
Zelensky’s five-year term is due to end in 2024, but his comments suggest that it will be extended indefinitely if the war isn’t over by then. He made similar comments about Ukraine’s parliamentary elections, which are due to be held in October of this year, in an interview with The Washington Post last month.
When asked if parliamentary elections will be held this fall, Zelensky said, “If we have martial law, we cannot have elections. The constitution prohibits any elections during martial law. If there is no martial law, then there will be.”
However, in the latest interview he “expressed hope that there would be peace in Ukraine next year, and life would be returning to normal.”
Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, also said this month that elections can’t happen in Ukraine under martial law, which Zelensky declared when Russia invaded. “Ukrainian legislation stipulates it is impossible to hold any elections during martial law. And this makes sense,” he said.
Stefanchuk added that if elections happen, it could “lead to the rupture of the state, which our enemy is waiting for. That is why I think the most correct and wise decision is to hold elections immediately after the end of martial law.”
The Biden admin says it must support Ukraine "for as long as it takes" because it is "defending democracy"
But Zelensky has banned opposition parties and media, raided Orthodox churches, and has now effectively cancelled the 2024 election
Watch the State Dept feign ignorance… https://t.co/jTXieASv8S
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) June 28, 2023
After declaring martial law, Zelensky took steps to consolidate his power, including banning the main opposition party in Ukraine’s parliament, Opposition Platform — For Life, which held 44 seats at the time. He also banned ten other opposition parties and nationalized the media.
Just on the heels of the New York Times’ observation that Ukrainian forces failed to capitalize on the weekend turmoil in Russia of the Wagner uprising, the Biden administration announced a new $500 million military aid package on Tuesday.
First, in a Sunday report the NYT cited anonymous “American officials and independent analysts” as acknowledging that “there did not seem to be any immediate defensive gaps to exploit” in Russian lines. They said that “according to a preliminary analysis” no Russian units were pushed back or abandoned their positions in the east and south, despite the Wagner rebellion having been a major distraction for Russian command Friday and Saturday. The US officials went on to say that at least for the near future, the “front lines in Ukraine are likely to remain unchanged.”
Strangely, one of the arguments that could be heard from Western pundits over the last days is that the Wagner mutiny episode shows that Washington must keep up its support for a “weakened” Russia. On Wednesday, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda commented of Wagner’s leader being exiled to Belarus: “If Wagner deploys its serial killers in Belarus, all neighboring countries face even bigger danger of instability,” he said after meeting with some NATO allies.
As for the new US aid, it comes after The New York Times tallied that some 17% of the Bradley fighting vehicles already given to Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed thus far. This new half-billion in assistance comes via the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA), meaning the new shipments will be taken directly from Pentagon stockpiles.
Ukraine will surely look to take advantage of the chaos caused by Mr. Prigozhin, but there did not seem to be any immediate defensive gaps to exploit, according to American officials and independent analysts.
And Mr. Prigozhin’s march, at least according to a preliminary analysis, did not cause any Russian units on Friday or Saturday to leave their positions in southern or eastern Ukraine to come to Moscow’s defense, American officials said. While the drama was unfolding, there was no letup in the war: Russian forces fired more than 50 missiles across Ukraine before dawn on Saturday. — NY Times
Below is the State Department’s new talking point of more aid being vital in light of events centered on Wagner:
The state department comes to the conclusion that the attempted coup by Prigozhyn “demonstrates the need to support Ukraine” … is there any event that would not demonstrate that?
— State Department grilled by Liam Cosgrove pic.twitter.com/zwFln1Fy07
— Lord Bebo (@MyLordBebo) June 27, 2023
A Pentagon announcement this week indicated the fresh package will include:
- Additional munitions for Patriot air defense systems
- Stinger anti-aircraft systems
- Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS)
- Demolitions munitions and systems for obstacle clearing
- Mine clearing equipment
- 155mm and 105mm artillery rounds
- 30 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles
- 25 Stryker Armored Personnel Carriers
- Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked, Wire-Guided (TOW) missiles
- Javelin anti-armor systems
- AT-4 anti-armor systems
- Anti-armor rockets
- High-speed Anti-radiation missiles (HARMs)
- Precision aerial munitions
- Small arms and over 22 million rounds of small arms ammunition and grenades
- Thermal imagery systems and night vision devices
- Testing and diagnostic equipment to support vehicle maintenance and repair
- Spare parts, generators, and other field equipment
Keeping track of the massive US funding and defense aid to Ukraine, which far outpaces all NATO allies..
There’s lately been controversy over the Pentagon claim of an “accounting error” – which overvalued weapons sent to Ukraine by $6.2 billion. Additionally, concerns over US and Western arms being shipped with lack of oversight and proper tracking haven’t gone away, with reports they’ve even illicitly shown up in the Middle East, in the hands of Israel’s enemies.