The ‘deal’…Russia had said that it would grant amnesty to Mr. Prigozhin and his fighters if they leave the country it appears…..
Russian President Putin tries to calm his country …..
Is having Yevgeny V. Prigozhin and his ‘army’ in Belarus a comfort, or a threat?
Latvia and Lithuania get nervous about Wagner’s Northern camp-out…..
African nations also are worried about Wagner’s breakup with Putin….
The Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny V. Prigozhin arrived in Belarus on Tuesday, the Belarusian state news media reported, ending days of speculation over his whereabouts after he called off a weekend uprising that marked the most dramatic challenge to President Vladimir V. Putin’s rule in two decades.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Putin praised his security forces in a grandly choreographed speech that portrayed the rebellion as a heroic episode for the Russian state. In a series of appearances three days after the mutiny, Mr. Putin appeared to be trying to seize the initiative, indirectly warning of consequences for officials who helped Mr. Prigozhin enrich himself at the country’s expense. He also thanked the Russian military for having “essentially stopped a civil war,” state media reported.
The Russian authorities dropped an investigation into Mr. Prigozhin and members of his Wagner group over the armed rebellion. The group was preparing to hand over military equipment to the Russian Army, state news media reported, as the Kremlin mounts a concerted effort to move on from the mutiny.
Under a deal brokered by President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, Russia’s closest ally, to end the uprising, Russia had said that it would grant amnesty to Mr. Prigozhin and his fighters and that Mr. Prigozhin would receive exile in Belarus.
Here are other developments:
In dropping criminal charges over the mutiny and announcing that Wagner fighters would hand over arms, the Kremlin sought to resolve some of the volatile questions lingering since the stunning events of the weekend. But there was no immediate response from the Wagner group or from Mr. Prigozhin. And there were few details on how much Wagner equipment would be relinquished or how many of its fighters — whose numbers Mr. Prigozhin recently put at 25,000 — would agree to be placed under the Russian Army’s command.
In brief remarks at the Kremlin on Tuesday, Mr. Putin said that some Russian airmen had “died in the confrontation with the mutineers,” and he praised them for carrying out their duties. In a televised speech on Monday night, a visibly angry Mr. Putin denounced the mutiny as “blackmail” that had been “doomed to failure,” though he did not name Mr. Prigozhin, his erstwhile ally.
Mr. Lukashenko appeared to acknowledge that tensions between Mr. Prigozhin and Russia’s defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, over the war in Ukraine had been allowed to spiral out of control. The comments represented rare, if indirect, criticism of Mr. Putin by the Belarusian leader, who has become increasingly reliant on Moscow.
Ukraine appears to be seizing more river islands around the southern city of Kherson in a possible expansion of its counteroffensive, according to residents and Russian military bloggers…..
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Security guarantees for Prigozhin have been provided as promised, Lukashenko said at a ceremony with senior military officers, according to a state media report. “Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today,” he said of the Wagner leader in exile.
- Putin sought to bolster the image of his military on Tuesday, addressing dozens of military officers and soldiers who supposedly took part in quelling the mutiny. He told them they “essentially stopped a civil war” and that “the army and the people were not with the rebels.” On Monday, Putin arguedthat he could have easily crushed the Wagner rebellion but worked to “avoid much bloodshed” and give “those who made a mistake a chance to think again.” However, Wagner forces advanced swiftly toward Moscow after seizing control of the Southern Military District headquarters on Saturday, and Prigozhin claimed that this showed “serious security flaws” across Russia.
- A Russian military official sought to dismiss the rebellion as “inspired by the West.” The head of the Russian National Guard, Viktor Zolotov, said the reason Wagner forces had moved quickly toward Moscow from the south during the rebellion was because Russian forces were concentrated near the capital. “We knew that we would win. The rebels would not have taken Moscow,” he said Tuesday.
- Lukashenko offered the Wagner Group an abandoned military base and said he welcomed the battlefield “experience” that Wagner commanders could bring to Belarus. “We are also pragmatic about this,” he said Tuesday, according to Belarusian state media. He said Wagner commanders could “help” Belarus by sharing their “priceless” experience from the front lines in Ukraine. “We will help in any way we can,” he said. “Until they decide what to do.” Putin has agreed that the Wagner Group’s mutineers could move to neighboring Belarus, return home or sign contracts with the Russian Defense Ministry to join the army. However, some observers have argued that Prigozhin could pose a potential domestic security risk for Lukashenko, particularly if the mercenary chief’s forces relocate with him.
- Prigozhin called the short-lived rebellion a “march of justice” after he said Russian forces killed 30 of his fighters. He said his group was “forced to strike air assets” of the Russian military after coming under attack from helicopters and aircraft dropping bombs and firing missiles. In a voice message Monday, he confirmed he would move to Belarus to avoid prosecution and that the Wagner Group would be able to continue its operations there.
- Latvia and Lithuania urged NATO to fortify its eastern borders in response to the Wagner Group’s revolt and Prigozhin’s reported relocation to Belarus. “Our countries’ borders are just hundreds of kilometers from that activity, so it could take them eight to 10 hours to suddenly appear somewhere in Belarus close to Lithuania,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters during a visit to France with other Baltic officials weeks before next month’s NATO summit in Lithuania. Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said now that the Wagner Group’s capabilities have been seen, “this move needs to be assessed from a different security point of view.”
- An envoy for Pope Francis will visit Moscow this week, the Vatican’s press office said Tuesday. Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, the archbishop of Bologna and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, is seeking to “contribute to facilitating a solution to the current tragic situation,” the statement said. Zuppi will be in Russia on Wednesday and Thursday.
- The European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said Putin’s military power was “cracking”after being attacked by the “monster that Putin created with Wagner.” Borrell made the remarks Monday as European foreign ministers gathered in Luxembourg.
- Large swaths of Africa felt unease over their reliance on the wounded Wagner Group following the aborted rebellion in Russia, analysts said. Leaders in countries including the Central African Republic and Mali have traditionally turned to Wagner to bolster their hold on power, but they now face the possibility that the private military organization may be weakened or even dismantled by Moscow.
Rebellion shakes Russian elite’s faith in Putin’s strength: Moscow’s elites are asking whether the Russian president, for a moment at least, lost control of the country, Catherine Belton reports, as shock waves from the fiercest challenge to Putin’s 23-year rule were still reverberating…..