The essentials in brief:
- Prigozhin denies attempted coup against Putin
- Defense Minister Pistorius in Lithuania
- Lithuanian President demands strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank
- EU foreign ministers decide on further aid to Ukraine
- Reports of damage from Wagner advance
- Zelenskyj: Russia is increasingly harming itself
The leader of the Wagner squad, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has come forward for the first time since his aborted uprising over the weekend. He did not want to overthrow the Russian leadership, he explains in an eleven-minute audio message in which he does not reveal his whereabouts. The aim of the action was to save his troops, which were threatened by integration into the regular Russian army.
Prigozhin criticizes that his troops were shot at on the way to Moscow. He regrets that Russian Air Force planes were shot down in return. In the end, they turned around to avoid bloodshed. However, his advance revealed significant security deficiencies in Russia.
Prigozhin had advanced with his heavily armed soldiers from the Ukrainian border to Moscow. The Wagner boss now says in his audio message that the military column of his troops has advanced 780 kilometers in Russia and has come to around 200 kilometers from Moscow. Wagner “blocked all military infrastructure” including air force bases along the route. Prigozhin claims that civilians in towns along the route supported his people.
Bundeswehr Brigade for Lithuania
According to Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, Germany wants to send around 4,000 additional Bundeswehr soldiers to Lithuania to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank there. “Germany is ready to permanently station a robust brigade in Lithuania,” he said during a visit to the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.
Pistorius watches a Bundeswehr exercise with the Lithuanian army. During the “Griffin Storm” maneuver, for which 1,000 soldiers from Panzergrenadierbrigade 41 “Vorpommern” were transferred to Lithuania, the defense of NATO’s eastern flank is being trained. The training ground in Pabrade is less than 200 kilometers from the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.
President Gitanas Nauseda stated that Lithuania wanted to complete the military infrastructure for stationing German soldiers by 2026. If it works out in 2025, he won’t be angry, he said after a meeting with Pistorius and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Pabrade. “We have a strong political willingness in Lithuania to find the necessary financial resources to be able to finance the infrastructure needs,” emphasized Nauseda. This goes hand in hand with the modernization of the Lithuanian armed forces, which is also a “very important priority”.
In the evening, Pistorius and Stoltenberg take part in the presentation of the Manfred Wörner Medal, which is awarded by the Federal Ministry of Defense to personalities who have made outstanding contributions to peace and freedom in Europe. Stoltenberg will hold the laudatory speech for this year’s prizewinner, former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite.
“Security of the eastern border must be increased”
After the uprising of the Russian private army Wagner against the leadership in Moscow, Nauseda had called for a further strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank. Should Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin end up in exile in Belarus with unclear intentions, the security of the eastern border must be increased, said the head of state of the Baltic EU and NATO country.
Referring to Russia, he explained: “We are dealing with a large state, a nuclear state, and any internal unrest inevitably has consequences for the security of the surrounding states.” So far he has no information that the Wagner boss is already in Belarus. Nauseda announced that Lithuania would use more intelligence capacity in the future to assess the “political and security aspects” of the situation in Belarus.
Another 3.5 billion euros for Ukraine
In Luxembourg, the foreign ministers of the European Union discussed developments after the Wagner revolt in Russia and decided on further support for Ukraine. The EU is thus making a further 3.5 billion euros available for military support to Ukraine and other partner countries. Hungary recently blocked the release of a tranche of 500 million euros from the fund, which is to be used to finance arms deliveries to Ukraine.
There was also the question of how Russia can be held responsible for the war of aggression. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took part in the debate via video.
Baerbock sees deep rifts
Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on the sidelines of the EU consultations that she saw deep rifts behind the failed uprising by the Russian mercenary group Wagner: “It’s about a domestic power struggle in Russia, and we’re not getting involved.” The revolt created “massive cracks in Russian propaganda”. With the brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin is destroying his own country, Baerbock said. However, it is still “unclear which other acts will follow in this play”.
New video from Defense Minister Shoigu
After the armed uprising by the Wagner mercenary group last weekend, Russia’s government released footage of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for the first time. The 47-second video without sound, which shows Shoigu in consultation with other military officers, is said to have been recorded during a visit to the combat zone in Ukraine, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Telegram. The minister visited one of the front command points there, it said. This could not initially be checked independently. No information was given as to when the recordings were made.
There was no public trace of Shoigu at the weekend after mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigoshin started an uprising on Saturday night and temporarily occupied the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Russia’s chief of staff, Valeri Gerasimov, did not comment during these chaotic hours. Prigozhin had made serious accusations against both Shoigu and Gerasimov, citing their alleged military misconduct as the reason why he wanted his fighters to march on Moscow.
Wagner fighters damaged houses and roads
According to the authorities, houses and roads were damaged during the advance of rebellious Wagner mercenaries in Russia. In the Voronezh region, 19 houses in the village of Elizavetovka were damaged in a firefight, said the head of the district administration, Maxim Yantsov, in the messenger service Telegram. Accordingly, there were clashes with the regular Russian army near the village “during the passage of a Wagner column”.
In the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner fighters occupied a military headquarters on Saturday, tanks damaged more than 10,000 square meters of roadways, Mayor Alexei Logvinenko said in online networks. In photos he published on the Internet, tank tracks could be seen on the streets. Repair work should start immediately and is scheduled to be completed in two days, he said.
Neither the Russian authorities nor the Wagner group initially gave any information on possible victims, although the mercenaries had said they had shot down several planes.
After the mercenary uprising, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin called for unity in the country. Russia’s stability has been challenged, Mishustin says at a televised government meeting. The country must continue to stand united behind President Vladimir Putin.
Selenskyj warns of Russian nuclear sabotage
According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Russia is increasingly damaging its own country with its war of aggression. It is now clear “that the war is returning to its home port,” he said in his video message every evening. It was unclear whether Zelenskyy meant Russia’s economic problems or the short-term uprising of the Wagner mercenaries over the weekend. “The longer Russian aggression lasts, the more damage it will do to Russia itself,” he said.
The Ukrainian head of state also complained about the situation around the Russian-controlled largest nuclear power plant in Europe. “Unfortunately, the world public’s attention to the existing Russian threat at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is still insufficient,” he said. Ukraine’s western partners have received all available intelligence information about Russia’s plans for the nuclear power plant. “We have to take very concrete measures, all together in the world, to prevent any radiation incidents,” he warned, referring to a possible sabotage of the facility by the Russian occupiers.
Ukraine: Things are going ‘in the right direction’
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov has called Russian authorities weak after the Wagner mercenaries uprising and said things are going “in the right direction”. This emerges from a message about a phone call between Resnikov and his US colleague Lloyd Austin. Topics of the conversation were also the current counter-offensive in Ukraine and a further strengthening of the army, it said.
as/rb/gri/fab/haz/bri (dpa, afp, rtr)
This article will be continuously updated on the day of its publication. Reports from the combat zones cannot be independently verified.