Russian President Putin Vows to Punish Rebels Involved in Treasonous Acts

Russian President Putin Vows to Punish Rebels Involved in Treasonous Acts

Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to punish all those involved in the “armed rebellion” and accused them of committing acts of treason against the state. In a televised address, Putin appealed to those who were “dragged into a criminal adventure by deceit or threats, pushed onto the path of a serious crime – an armed rebellion.”

Putin’s comments come after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief of the mercenary Wagner Group, accused the Kremlin of deliberately bombing Wagner troops. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied the accusations, calling Prigozhin’s remarks “informational provocation.” Prigozhin had also claimed that Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine was based on lies.

Prigozhin characterized the unprovoked war in Ukraine as a struggle for Russia’s future, an effort that Putin said requires unity among its forces. Putin said that “any internal turmoil is a deadly threat to our statehood, to us as a nation.” He added that “We will protect both our people and our statehood from any threats, including from internal betrayal. And what we are faced with is precisely a betrayal. Exorbitant ambitions and personal interests led to treason.”

Putin described the situation in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southwestern Russia near Ukraine, as difficult but said he would seek to stabilize the situation there. Prigozhin had claimed that he and his mercenary forces had taken control of the city, a key logistical hub for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine, but CNBC has not verified these claims. Prigozhin has demanded that top Russian general Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister meet him in Rostov.

The U.K. defense ministry characterized the feud between Wagner and Moscow as “the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” adding that it has “escalated into outright military confrontation.” The ministry said the loyalty of Russia’s forces is crucial to the outcome of this situation. It had noted there was little evidence of Russian forces fighting with the mercenary troops, even remaining “passive” or “acquiescing” in some cases.

Putin’s vow to make those who organized the rebellion answer for their actions marks a stark split for Prigozhin, who had once been seen as one of the president’s long-standing supporters. As tensions mounted between the paramilitary leader and senior defense officials, Prigozhin had been careful to not direct his criticism toward the Kremlin and Putin.

Russia has relied heavily on the mercenary group in its war, but a rift has grown between Moscow and Wagner fighters. Prigozhin previously complained that his forces had only received a fraction of ammunition deliveries that had been requested. He has also criticized defense officials’ strategy in Ukraine.

The mercenary rebellion comes as Ukraine chips away at Russian-occupied territory in its counteroffensive efforts. Fighting has intensified, but Kyiv’s efforts have only produced limited gains so far. Putin’s announcement regarding the rebels involved in treasonous acts has caused an uproar in Russia and the world as it remains to be seen how the situation will unfold.


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