Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured leaders in Asia that his country is stable and united despite a brief mutiny instigated by the Wagner Group, which sent shock waves across the world.
“The Russian people are consolidated as never before,” Putin told a virtual meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) on Tuesday.
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The Eurasian group includes China and India and focuses on international security, defence, and economic and political policy.
“Russian political circles and the whole of society clearly demonstrated their unity and elevated sense of responsibility for the fate of the fatherland when they responded as a united front against an attempted armed mutiny,” Putin added.
Putin thanked members of the SCO, who he said had backed his efforts “to protect the constitutional order, the lives and security of citizens”.
He told them that Russia would stand up against Western pressure, sanctions and “provocations” imposed over what Moscow calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
The president added that he seeks to boost economic ties with members of the SCO.
Russia views countries such as China, India and Iran – the newest member of the SCO – as key partners in confronting the United States and resisting what it portrays as Washington’s attempts to dictate the world order.
Wagner march on Moscow
Last month, Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin seized the city of Rostov-on-Don and marched towards Moscow, demanding the removal of Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Prigozhin’s uprising ended hours after it began within 200km (124 miles) of Moscow. He struck a deal with the Kremlin to end the operation with a pact brokered by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Prigozhin, now in exile in Belarus, later released an audio statement saying the march was not meant to overthrow the government.
The future of Wagner’s assets and subsidiaries remains uncertain, but some of the group’s businesses have shut down.
After the short-lived mutiny, Western leaders said the revolt had displayed vulnerabilities in Russia’s security and defence policies.
Iran and China downplayed the unexpected mutiny and called it an “internal affair”.