U.S. Distances Itself from Wagner Group’s Rebellion in Russia

June 26, 2023

The Biden Administration on Monday insisted that neither the U.S. nor its allies had any hand in Wagner mercenary group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s brief uprising against the Kremlin.

“We gave [Russian President Vladimir] Putin no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO,” Biden said Monday from the White House’s East Room. “We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”

State Department spokesperson Matt Miller followed up during his daily briefing on Monday, saying, “The United States does not take a position on the leadership of the Russian Federation. We do not take a position on the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defense. Our policies have always been with respect to the actions that Russia has taken. We want a Russia that is not invading its neighbors.”

He added that the crisis in Russia was a “dynamic situation” and that it’s “unclear what the ultimate implications of what happened will be as it relates to the United States activities and the United States’ interests.”

Miller further stated that the State Department doesn’t have any information on Prigozhin’s present whereabouts. 

The uprising began on Friday, when Prigozhin marched his columns of mercenaries into the Russian city of Rostov near Ukraine’s front lines.

It ended Saturday after a deal was reportedly struck by Belarus President Aleksander Lukashenko that Prigozhin’s mercenaries would receive immunity, and that charges brought against Prigozhin himself be dropped, after he turned his columns away from their march toward Moscow.

However, Russian state media was reporting Monday that Prigozhin, who has reportedly left Russia for neighboring Belarus, may still face criminal charges anyway.

Video surfaced on Monday of Prigozhin leaving Rostov.

According to Miller, President Biden spent the weekend “convening allies and partners.” 

Biden had a call with the other Quad nations—India, Australia and Japan—according to Miller, who added that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had spoken with members of the G-7 and the foreign ministers of Turkey and Poland as well as with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.  

Miller added that the U.S. made clear to all allies that “our steadfast support for Ukraine will remain so, no matter what happens in Russia.”

He did concede that “it’s a new thing to see President Putin’s leadership directly challenged.”

In answer to a question about Russia’s nuclear weapons, Miller said he would defer to the Pentagon about military communications. However, he added, “We do not see any change in the disposition of Russian nuclear forces and have not changed the disposition of ours.”


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