Putin’s message to the mercenaries: Join the army or go to Belarus

He thanked the Wagner mercenaries for their service on the front lines in Ukraine. But Kremlin leader Putin made it clear in his speech to the nation: he will not be blackmailed by them. The insurgents were left with only two options.

In his first televised address following the uprising of the Wagner mercenaries in Russia, President Vladimir Putin presented himself as the guarantor of internal peace. He said he had ensured that there was no bloodshed during the aborted uprising on Monday evening. He accused Ukraine and its Western allies of wanting “Russian soldiers to kill each other.” He granted amnesty to the Wagner mercenaries.

“Since the beginning of the events, measures have been taken on my direct orders to avoid a large-scale bloodshed,” Putin said. “Russia’s enemies,” on the other hand, wanted exactly such a fratricide: both the neo-Nazis in Kiev and their Western benefactors and all kinds of traitors,” Putin said.

Shortly before, US President Joe Biden had rejected any Western involvement in the revolt of the Wagner mercenary group in Russia. “The West had nothing to do” with the uprising, Biden said at the White House. It was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”

Kremlin leader Putin thanked the Russians for their endurance, unity, and patriotism during the weekend events. “The solidarity of the civilian population has shown that any blackmail, any attempt to organize internal turmoil, is doomed to fail,” Putin said. He added that the coup plotters had also realized this and given up.

He added that Wagner members could sign a contract with the regular Russian army, return to their families and loved ones, or go to Belarus. Putin thanked the Russian patriots among the Wagner fighters.

Without mentioning him by name, Putin once again accused Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin. He said that Prigozhin had betrayed his country and his people while lying to his men. “The vast majority of the fighters and commanders of the Wagner group are also Russian patriots who are committed to their people and the state,” Putin continued. They had proven this through their courage on the battlefield.