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Shoigu breaks silence on Wagner rebellion

by Martin Fornusek July 3, 2023 2:03 PM 2 min read
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Jan.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu during a meeting with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, Jan. 13, 2022. (Source: Presidential Executive Office of Russia/Wikimedia Commons)
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Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made his first comment on the Wagner Group mutiny, the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported on July 3.

The minister highlighted the military's loyalty in the face of "provocations" and "destabilization attempts."

"The provocation did not affect the activities of military units," RIA Novosti cited Shoigu.

"The soldiers courageously and selflessly continued to carry out the tasks assigned to them."

This is Shoigu's first public comment on the armed uprising by the Wagner Group's leader Yevgeny Prigozhin on June 23-24, in which the military contractors occupied Rostov and marched toward the capital of Moscow.

The mercenaries met only limited resistance in their "March of Justice," while Ukraine's military reported little changes in Russian defensive capabilities on the front lines.

After the insurrection ended in an undisclosed treaty between Prigozhin and the Kremlin, the mercenary boss justified his rebellion with Shoigu's attempts at dissolving the Wagner group.

There has been a long-standing feud between Prigozhin and the minister, marked by disagreements on jurisdiction and ammunition supplies, and even an armed clash between the mercenaries and regular troops. According to the Wall Street Journal, the rebellious oligarch was planning to capture Shoigu and Chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov in the uprising.

The minister's disappearance from the public eye during the rebellion sparked speculations that Prigozhin negotiated Shogiu's replacement in return for laying down arms.

Possibly to address these speculations, a video was published on June 26 showing Shoigu meeting the troops. The sound in the video was muted, however, and it was unclear where or when the footage was recorded.

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