Moscow warns West against leveraging insurrection for 'anti-Russian' goals

AFP , Saturday 24 Jun 2023

Russia warned the West on Saturday against taking advantage of an armed insurrection carried out by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia to achieve what Moscow said were their "anti-Russian" goals.

File photo: A view of the Kremlin taken during the last day of the three-day parliamentary and local elections in Moscow on Sept. 19, 2021. AFP


"We warn the Western countries against any hint of possible use of the domestic Russian situation to achieve their Russophobic goals," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"All goals and objectives of the special military operation will be fulfilled," it added, using the Kremlin-preferred term for Moscow's large-scale military intervention in Ukraine.

The Wagner group chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, 62, released a series of messages from late Friday into Saturday, claiming that he and his mercenary troops had entered the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and taken control of its military sites. 

Responding to the challenge in a televised address, Putin accused Prighozin, whose private army provided shock troops for Moscow's offensive in Ukraine, of a "stab in the back" that posed a threat to Russia's very survival.

The rebellion comes at a time when Russia is “fighting the toughest battle for its future,” Putin said, as Western governments heap sanctions on Moscow and arm Ukraine. Prigozhin's actions could have significant implications for the war.

The revolt by the Wagner mercenary group is considered the most serious challenge yet to shake the Kremlin chief's long rule, and Russia's most serious security crisis since the strongman Putin came to power in late 1999.

After Putin’s address, officials sought to reiterate their allegiance to the Kremlin and urged Prigozhin to back down.

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