Mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said he expects “further victories at the front” for the Wagner Group in his first public comments since shortly after the rebellion he launched in Russia was suppressed, although it was not clear when they were made, the Kyiv Independent reported Monday.
In a video posted Monday on a Telegram channel, Prigozhin also claimed to have accomplished many of the goals of the brief revolt, which he said was intended at “fighting traitors and mobilizing (Russian) society.”
After running through the southern city of Rostov-on-Don and getting within 120 miles of Moscow on June 24, the Wagner forces turned around after Prigozhin agreed to an offer of asylum in Belarus for him and his fighters mediated by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Since then, Lukashenko has said Prigozhin made it to his country, which is closely allied with the Kremlin, but the wealthy businessman has not been seen.
On Friday, Ukraine intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has been tasked with killing Prigozhin, although he pointed out, “not all potential assassination attempts will be quick.”
There have been reports that Wagner troops have been settling in an abandoned military base in central Belarus, but Prigozhin doesn’t mention his location in the video, according to the Independent, so it’s hard to know whether he has joined them.
∎ Ukrainian novelist-turned-war-crimes-researcher Victoria Amelina, whose works have been translated into English and at least eight languages, has died of injuries suffered in last month’s Russian missile strike on a Kramatorsk pizza restaurant, Ukraine authorities announced. The attack killed at least a dozen people and wounded scores more.
∎ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signaled Monday that his country is not ready to ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO, indicating the Swedes need to take a tougher stance against anti-Islamic demonstrations and groups Ankara considers terrorists.
∎ The withdrawal of Wagner mercenaries from Ukraine poses no risks to Russia’s combat potential, the head of the State Duma Defense Committee told the Tass news agency Monday. Andrey Kartapolov said Russian regular forces can replace them.
∎ Russian and Belarusian players were back in action at Wimbledon as the tournament got underway Monday. They were banned last year because of their countries’ roles in the war in Ukraine and still can’t represent their nations, competing instead as neutral athletes.
Russia says it foiled car-bombing attempt on head of Crimea
The Russian FSB said it prevented an assassination attempt on Sergey Aksyonov, the Moscow-designated head of occupied Crimea, the state-owned TASS news agency reported Monday. The FSB later posted a video in which the supposed perpetrator, which it described as a Russian national recruited and trained by Ukrainian intelligence services, confessed to his intentions, TASS said.
An FSB statement said the purported Ukrainian operative reached Crimea in June and was planning to blow up Aksyonov’s motorcade but was apprehended at an unspecified date. “The bomber failed to follow through with his criminal plans as he was detained while removing an explosive device from a cache,” the statement said, according to TASS.
Russia illegally annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and made the port city of Sevastopol the base of its Black Sea Fleet.
Invasion could last decades, end in nuclear war, Russian official says
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could last for decades and end in nuclear war, a top Russian official suggests.
Dmitri Medvedev, in a piece he wrote for the state-owned Rossiskaya Gazeta, says a “regional conflict” over the Donbas area of Ukraine has turned into a “total confrontation” against Western powers. He says the war represents the West’s last chance to “maintain the status quo” and avoid losing global power and influence.
“You don’t have to be a visionary to understand thatthe confrontation phase will be very long,” writes Medvedev, the head of Russia’s Security Council who served as Russian president and Putin puppet from 2008-2012. “The standoff will last decades.”
He suggests it could end with nuclear war resulting in no winners as millions of people die from the blasts, penetrating radiation and radioactive contamination.
“Such an Apocalypse is not only possible, but also quite probable,” Medvedev says.
Top Russian general thanks troops for halting historic coup
Last month’s mutiny against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime collapsed because Russian troops remained faithful to their oath and military duty, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday.
Shoigu, who was an apparent target of the insurgency, broke his silence on the issue with military commanders at a conference call Monday. Shoigu, in excerpts that were published by Russian state media, said military personnel fulfilled their assignments “courageously and selflessly” in the face of the Wagner Group’s aborted push toward Moscow. And Shoigu, who for months was lambasted on social media as incompetent by Prigozhin, credited Russia’s regular soldiers with staving off Ukrainian troops that he said had failed to make major gains on the battlefield since their offensive began last month.
Prigohzin has said he had not planned on taking over the government, but multiple media reports indicated he had planned to force Shoigu out.
“The professional actions of our troops help minimize civilian casualties and save hundreds of lives,” Shoigu said Monday. “I express my gratitude to the personnel for their faithful service.”
Zelenskyy says Putin power ‘crumbling’
Russia’s brief, armed rebellion last month demonstrated Putin’s weakness and his fading support among the Russian people, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says. Zelenskyy, in an interview with CNN recorded Sunday, also reiterated his position that the war won’t end until Ukraine has regained all territory seized by Russia − including Crimea, which Russia has occupied since 2014, years before invading Ukraine more than 16 months ago.
“We cannot imagine Ukraine without Crimea. And while Crimea is under the Russian occupation, it means only one thing − the war is not over yet,” he said.
Zelenskyy noted the rebellion by the Wagner mercenaries seized military installations in two Russian cities, showing “how easy it is to do.” Ukraine intelligence reports indicated half the Russian people supported Prigozhin, he said.
“Putin doesn’t control the situation in the regions,” Zelenskyy said. “All that vertical of power he used to have is just crumbling down.”
Peace plans aplenty, but Ukraine draws line at conceding land
China has a 12-point plan. Brazil offered to lead a “peace club.” The Vatican dispatched a papal trouble-shooter. An African delegation met with the leaders of both warring countries.
Sixteen months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the number of peace plans, initiatives and offers of mediation from third parties is proliferating. What doesn’t appear to be expanding is Ukraine’s appetite to consider them. Zelenskyy and his closest advisers have repeatedly said that while Ukraine is open to input from others, it doesn’t need intermediaries for peace negotiations.
This is because Ukraine has ruled out compromises over its territory and sovereignty and Putin has shown no signs he’s prepared to abandon his goal of completely dominating Ukraine. (Read more)
− Kim Hjelmgaard
Nuke plant’s backup power line repaired, but safety ‘not sustainable’
Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has been reconnected to its only available backup power line four months after it was lost, but the power situation at Europe’s largest nuclear plant remains extremely fragile and is “not sustainable,” the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday.
Rafael Mariano Grossi said work to reconnect the power line had been hampered by the “difficult security situation’ in Ukraine’s southern region. The ZNPP had been relying on a single main line for the external electricity it needs for reactor cooling and other essential nuclear safety and security functions. The plant, which has not generated electricity in months, had four such lines before the conflict began.