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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin on June 26 lashed out at the organizers of the Wagner rebellion but argued that most Wagner mercenaries are patriots.
Without naming the group's founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, Putin denounced the rebellion's organizers as traitors for challenging Russia at the time of the ongoing war with Ukraine.
He added that the uprising's leaders were playing into the hands of Ukrainian and Western leaders who hope for internal discord within Russia.
However, Putin praised the Wagner mercenaries as patriots who have fought for Russia. He said, however, that they had been used by the organizers of the rebellion for their own purposes.
He said that Wagner mercenaries will have a chance to undo their mistakes. They will have the option to sign a contract with the Russian Defense Ministry or leave for Belarus, he said.
Putin also praised the "unity" of Russian society in the face of the internal threat, claiming the rebellion would have been defeated in any case.
"The solidarity of our society has shown that any blackmail and attempts to stir up internal turmoil are doomed to failure," he said.
Finally, Putin thanked Belarus's dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko for facilitating the deal between Moscow and Wagner's leadership.
Earlier on June 26, Prigozhin published his first statement since the rebellion, saying its aim was not to topple the government but to protest the Defense Ministry's decision to dissolve Wagner.
The rebellion was launched late on June 23. The mercenary group occupied Rostov, a major regional capital, and marched all the way to the town of Kashira in Moscow Oblast before unexpectedly ending the rebellion on June 24.
Following Prigozhin's negotiations with Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko that led to Wagner's retreat, the Kremlin pledged to close the criminal case against the mercenary boss, who was set to leave for Belarus.
Prigozhin's current whereabouts as well as the content of the deal between Wagner and the Kremlin remain unclear in public sources beyond speculation and gossip.