Governments around the world are closely watching the events rapidly unfolding in Russia, where a revolt by the Wagner mercenary group has posed the most serious challenge to President Vladimir Putin’s long rule.
Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin on Saturday said his fighters had crossed from Ukraine into the Russian border city of Rostov-on-Don, taking control of military facilities in the city, including the airfield.
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During an emergency televised address in Moscow, Putin promised to crush what he called an “armed mutiny” and an act of treason.
Here is what governments and political institutions are saying about the extraordinary situation taking place in nuclear-armed Russia:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the Wagner mutiny showed Russia was weak.
“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness. And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later,” he said in a statement on social media.
“Anyone who chooses the path of evil destroys themselves,” Zelenskyy also wrote on Twitter. “For a long time, Russia used propaganda to mask its weakness and the stupidity of its government. And now there is so much chaos that no lie can hide it.”
Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself. Who sends columns of troops to destroy the lives of another country and cannot stop them from fleeing and betraying when life resists. Who terrorizes with missiles, and when they are shot down, humiliates himself to receive…
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 24, 2023
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the international community to “abandon false neutrality” on Russia and provide Kyiv all of the weapons it needs to push Moscow’s forces out of Ukrainian territory. “Those who said Russia was too strong to lose: look now,” he posted on Twitter.
Those who said Russia was too strong to lose: look now. Time to abandon false neutrality and fear of escalation; give Ukraine all the needed weapons; forget about friendship or business with Russia. Time to put an end to the evil everyone despised but was too afraid to tear down.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) June 24, 2023
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said, “the next 48 hours will define the new status of Russia”.
“Either a full-fledged civil war, or a negotiated transit of power, or a temporary respite before the next phase of the downfall of the Putin regime,” he wrote on Twitter.
US President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation in Russia and Washington and “will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments”, National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US “will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation continues to develop”.
Spoke today with G7 Foreign Ministers and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to discuss the ongoing situation in Russia. The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation continues to develop.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) June 24, 2023
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged “all parties to be responsible and to protect civilians”.
“We’re in touch with our allies as the situation evolves. I’ll be speaking to some of them later today and the most important thing is for all parties to behave responsibly,” he told the BBC.
The country’s defence ministry said that “over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how this crisis plays out.”
“This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” it said.
It added that Wagner troops had “almost certainly” occupied key security sites in Rostov-on-Don and that “further Wagner units were moving north through Voronezh Oblast, almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow”.
“With very limited evidence of fighting between Wagner and Russian security forces, some have likely remained passive, acquiescing to Wagner,” it said.
European Council chief Charles Michel tweeted the bloc was “closely monitoring the situation in Russia as it unfolds. In touch with European leaders and @G7 partners.
“This is clearly an internal Russian issue,” he tweeted, adding “our support for Ukraine” is “unwavering”.
Closely monitoring the situation in Russia as it unfolds.
In touch with European leaders and @G7 partners.
This is clearly an internal Russian issue.
Our support for Ukraine and @ZelenskyyUa is unwavering.
— Charles Michel (@CharlesMichel) June 24, 2023
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey is ready to help seek a “peaceful resolution” to the armed rebellion in Russia in a phone call with his Russian counterpart.
Erdogan “underlined the importance of acting with common sense”, the presidency said in a statement.
“President Erdogan said that we, as Turkey, are ready to do our part for the peaceful resolution of events in Russia as soon as possible.”
“Estonia is closely following the development of the situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies. I can assure that there is no direct threat to our country. Border security has been strengthened. I also urge our people not to travel to any part of Russia,” said Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
Estonia is closely following the development of the situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies.
I can assure that there is no direct threat to our country.
Border security has been strengthened. I also urge our people not to travel to any part of Russia.
— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) June 24, 2023
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that “for 100 years Lithuanians have lived on the edge of Moscow’s brutal banditocracy, knowing it’s only a matter of time before the next chaotic implosion. We are not distracted. We see clearly in the chaos. The goal, as ever, is victory and justice for Ukraine. The time is now.”
“Latvia is closely following the developing situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies. Border security has been strengthened, visa or border entry from Russians leaving Russia due to current events won’t be considered. No direct threat to Latvia at this time,” said Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics.
President Andrzej Duda said: “In connection with the situation in Russia, this morning we held consultations with the prime minister and the ministry of defence, as well as with allies.
“The course of events beyond our eastern border is monitored on an ongoing basis.”
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has spoken to her counterparts within the Group of Seven industrialised nations, the foreign ministry in Berlin said, adding the German government’s crisis team was also meeting.
“German nationals in Russia should definitely take advantage of our adapted travel advice,” Baerbock said earlier, after the ministry told travellers to avoid Moscow city centre.
German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius said it is too early to guess the possible consequences of the armed uprising and what it may mean for the Kremlin’s war on Ukraine.
“That is difficult to assess, especially since we do not know how unstable Russia will become and who will ultimately have the upper hand and who will join forces with whom,” he said.
French President Emmanuel Macron “is following the situation very closely,” the Elysee said. “We remain focused on supporting Ukraine.”
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said the events taking place in Russia showed “how the aggression against Ukraine is causing instability also within Russia”, her office said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said for the moment there was no concern for Italians living in Russia, but said they were “advised to be cautious”.
“With regard to the ongoing military invasion of Ukraine and the possible threat of erosion of the security situation in the country, especially for citizens of EU and NATO countries, our strong warning against travel to the Russian Federation is still in place,” news agency CTK quoted Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky as saying.
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev spoke to Putin by phone, Tokayev’s office said, and described the events in Russia as its internal affair while saying rule of law was necessary to maintain order.
Putin briefed Tokayev on the situation, the Kazakh president’s office said, and thanked him for the understanding Kazakhstan has expressed.
Russian state news agency TASS said Putin had also spoken to the leaders of Belarus and Uzbekistan.
The country’s Security Council said in a statement that Minsk remained an ally of Russia and that internal disputes were “a gift to the collective West”.
Qatar expressed its concern over the situation in Russia and called for “maximum restraint” from all parties.
“The foreign ministry warns that escalation in Russia and Ukraine will have negative consequences for international peace and security and will impact food and energy supplies,” it said in a statement.
The ministry called for restraint, reason and “sparing civilians the repercussions of confrontation”.
“The escalation in Russia and Ukraine will have negative repercussions on international peace and security, and on food and energy supplies, which are already affected by the Russian-Ukrainian crisis,” the ministry said.
Iran supports the rule of law in the Russian Federation and considers the latest developments there an internal Russian matter, Iranian state media quoted foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani as saying.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s incident response group will meet to discuss the latest developments in Russia.
“We’re in contact with our allies and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Trudeau wrote on Twitter.