Vladimir Putin’s power has “weakened” after the attempted armed mutiny by the mercenaries of the Wagner PMC, US President Joe Biden said.
“He’s clearly losing the war in Ukraine and he’s losing the war at home”, Biden said in response to questions from reporters at the White House (quoted by Bloomberg). Moreover, the U.S. president added that Putin “has become a pariah in the world”. At the same time, it is still difficult to say how much power the Russian president has weakened, he noted.
Earlier, Biden said the U.S. and its allies had nothing to do with the Wagner PMC insurgency. “We’ve made it clear that we’re not involved, we have nothing to do with it. This is part of the fight within the Russian system”, Biden said. He said he has been following events in Russia with the national security team and has discussed at the buzzer with key allies.
The June 24 events showed “cracks” in Russia’s domestic politics, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the day before. “I don’t think we’ve seen the final act”, the U.S. official added.
The mutiny by Wagner PMC head Yevgeny Prigozhin was the most serious challenge to Putin in more than two decades of rule. In order to prevent bloodshed, the presidential administration had to negotiate with the “traitors of Russia”, as Putin first called the Wagnerites. He later recalled that many of the Wagner fighters were “patriots of Russia” and even thanked the mercenaries for not storming Moscow, stopping the columns of military equipment about 200 km from the capital.
After the mutiny, Putin decided to demonstrate the loyalty of the military to the regime. On June 27, he spoke on Red Square, where, according to TASS, 2,500 military, law enforcement and other security officials were brought in.
“You <…> acted clearly and coherently”, Putin said, adding that the determination and courage of the security forces “played a key role in suppressing the rebellion”. Recall that on Saturday, Wagner mercenaries seized Rostov unhindered and moved on to Moscow, shooting down at least six helicopters and a Defense Ministry plane along the way.
On June 28, Putin unexpectedly walked out to a crowd of people in Dagestan. “He was surrounded by hundreds of townspeople at the fountain, who cheerfully greeted the president”, TASS reported. According to “Agency”, this is the first time the president went out to the crowd in three years. After the pandemic, all guests who met with him had to observe a quarantine.