Biden: West had “nothing to do” with Wagner revolt
US President Joe Biden
US President Joe Biden has denied any Western involvement in the revolt by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia. The West had “nothing to do” with the uprising, Biden told journalists in the White House on Monday. “It was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”
Biden said that during talks with allies after the Wagner revolt began, he and his counterparts stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be given any pretext for blaming the West and NATO. “We have made it clear that we are not involved,” said the US President. “We had nothing to do with it.”
Biden added that it is currently “too early” to draw “final conclusions” from the events of the past few days. “We will continue to assess the consequences of this weekend’s events and the impact on Russia and Ukraine.” Close “cooperation” between the western states with regard to Russia is still important.
On Friday evening, the month-long power struggle between the head of the Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and the Russian military leadership escalated. Wagner fighters invaded Russia from Ukraine, Prigozhin said the goal was to overthrow the military leadership in Moscow.
After about 24 hours of uprising, Prigozhin surprisingly took a turn on Saturday evening and ordered his mercenaries back to their camps. According to the Kremlin, he and his mercenaries should go unpunished and Prigozhin should go into exile in Belarus.
Biden had phoned Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on the situation in Russia on Saturday. Biden then spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday.