Russia publicly presents defence minister for the first time since the Wagner uprising

26 June, 2023 | Disha Singh

Wagner World

Meanwhile, FSB, Russia's main security force has been authorized by Russian government to detain anybody, seize anything, conduct raids anywhere, and intercept all communications after the insurrec...

Russia has released images of Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, visiting troops, marking his first public appearance since the recent Wagner group insurrection led by warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin against senior military leadership.

In a video released by the defence ministry on Monday, Shoigu is seen inspecting a Russian command point and receiving a progress report on the war in Ukraine. The location and date of the video are unconfirmed, but it is speculated to have been filmed before Prigozhin’s uprising, possibly during Shoigu’s visit to the Belgorod region. Rybar, a social media channel run by a former defence ministry press secretary claimed.

There has been speculation that Shoigu’s removal was part of a deal between Putin and Prigozhin to end the rebellion, but the Kremlin denies this.

The video release may be an attempt to show a return to normalcy shortly after Prigozhin’s forces advanced toward Moscow and killed Russian troops. The EU’s chief diplomat described the rebellion as a threat to Putin’s regime, emphasizing the need to support Ukraine.

The defence ministry said on Monday that Shoigu had received a report about “the current situation, [the] nature of the enemy’s activities and fulfilment of the [army’s] combat tasks in the main tactical directions” from Yevgeny Nikiforov, commander of Russia’s Western Military District. Shoigu praised the army for its “high effectiveness” and ordered them to “uncover the enemy’s plans and stop them from being realised”.

“It is more important than ever to continue supporting Ukraine because what has happened during this weekend shows that the war against Ukraine is cracking Russian power and affecting its political system,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign and security policy.

At a meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers will make the decision to add €3.5 billion to a fund that supports the bloc’s military assistance to Ukraine and will also consider how to react to the events in Russia.

EU foreign ministers are expected to approve additional military support for Ukraine and discuss how to respond to the events in Russia. Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin announced the end of the “counter-terrorist operation” in the capital and thanked residents for their cooperation.

The extensive measures provide the FSB, Russia’s main security force, the authority to detain anybody, seize anything, conduct raids anywhere, and intercept all communications. They are more often connected with efforts to put an end to Islamist insurgencies in the north Caucasus region.

Prigozhin and his Wagner paramilitary troops withdrew from southern Russia after reaching an agreement with the Kremlin, with Prigozhin planning to travel to Belarus.

After announcing the conclusion of his insurrection on Saturday evening, the typically attention-seeking former caterer surprisingly remained silent. The Kremlin stated that he would be heading to Belarus as part of an agreement facilitated by the country’s leader, Alexander Lukashenko.

On Sunday, Prigozhin’s press office informed Russian broadcaster RTVI that the warlord would respond to questions when he had a reliable mobile phone signal. Video footage released by the Russian state news agency RIA indicated that he had departed from the city of Rostov-on-Don the previous evening, with crowds cheering for the leader of the Wagner Group.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a phone call on Sunday with US President Joe Biden, said: “Yesterday’s events exposed the weakness of Putin’s regime.”

In a later video address, Zelenskyy said: “The longer Russian aggression continues, the greater degradation it causes in Russia itself.” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the uprising showed “real cracks” in Putin’s authority. “This raises profound questions,” Blinken said. “We do know that Putin has a lot more to answer for in the weeks and months ahead.” Blinken called the crisis an “unfolding story”, adding: “I think we are in the midst of a moving picture. We haven’t seen the last act.”