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Putin vows to punish those involved in mutiny, accuses them of treason

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a statement following talks with Algeria’s President at the Kremlin in Moscow on June 15, 2023.

Mikhail Metzel | AFP | Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin pledged to punish everyone involved in the “armed rebellion” and accused them of treason.

In a televised address Saturday morning, Putin appealed to those who “by deceit or threats, were dragged into a criminal adventure, pushed onto the path of a serious crime — an armed rebellion.”

His comments come after Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the mercenary Wagner Group, accused the Kremlin of deliberately bombing Wagner troops. Russia’s Ministry of Defense has denied the accusations, calling Prigozhin’s remarks “informational provocation.” The mercenary chief had also claimed that Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine was based on lies.

He characterized the unprovoked war in Ukraine as a struggle for Russia’s future, an effort that Putin said requires unity among its forces. The Russian leader said, “I repeat, any internal turmoil is a deadly threat to our statehood, to us as a nation.”

“We will protect both our people and our statehood from any threats. Including — from internal betrayal,” Putin said. “And what we are faced with is precisely a betrayal. Exorbitant ambitions and personal interests led to treason.”

Putin also described the situation in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southwestern Russia near Ukraine, as difficult but said he would seek to stabilize the situation there.

Prigozhin has claimed that he and his mercenary forces have taken control of the city, a key logistical hub for Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine. CNBC has not verified the claims. The Wagner chief has demanded that top Russian general Valery Gerasimov and Defense Minister meet him in Rostov.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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