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Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with the heads of Russian law enforcement agencies. Valery Sarifulin/AP

Putin tells troops in Kremlin they 'de facto stopped civil war' by Wagner mercenaries

A minute’s silence was held for pilots killed during Saturday’s insurrection.

RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR Putin has told troops gathered at the Kremlin they prevented civil war after a revolt by Wagner mercenaries, and held a minute’s silence for pilots killed during the insurrection.

It was the latest in a series of addresses Putin has made after the rebellion, the most serious security threat in his more than two-decade rule.

“You de facto stopped civil war,” Putin told troops from the defence ministry, National Guard, FSB security service and interior ministry.

He addressed them inside the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square, standing on a red carpet and facing men in different uniforms.

Soldiers holding the Russian flag and bayonets stood behind the longtime leader.

“You proved your loyalty to the people of Russia and the military oath. You showed responsibility for the fate of the motherland and its future,” he said.

He held a minute of silence for pilots killed in clashes with the mutineers, without revealing how many died.

“In the confrontation with rebels, our comrades-in-arms, pilots, were killed. They did not flinch and honourably fulfilled their orders and their military duty,” Putin said.

He said Wagner mercenaries, whose columns were approaching Moscow before their leader Yevgeny Prigozhin called the mutiny off, did not win the support of the Russian people or its army.

“People who were drawn into the rebellion saw that the army and the people were not with them,” Putin said.

Prigozhin had claimed the opposite and some people in the city of Rostov-on-Don that his mercenaries occupied during the mutiny cheered him, but it was not possible to gauge what kind of support Wagner had in towns its forces marched through.

Putin also said Moscow did not redeploy any soldier from Ukraine to counter rebelling Wagner forces inside Russia, as the Kremlin has insisted the revolt will not affect its offensive in Ukraine.

“We did not have to take combat units from the special military operation zone,” Putin said.

“All military formations continued to wage a heroic fight at the front during that time.”

In another show of stability and control, the Kremlin last night showed Putin meeting with top security, law enforcement and military officials, including defence minister Sergei Shoigu, whom Prigozhin had sought to remove.

Putin has not mentioned Prigozhin by name since his revolt, only referring to rebelling forces as “the mutineers”.

– © AFP 2023

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