(Update: adds Lukashenko confirming arrival of Prigozhin in Belarus)
Moscow, Jun 27 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin praised the loyalty of the country’s military and security forces in the face of the rebellion led by the leader of the Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who arrived in Belarus on Tuesday.
Prigozhin agreed to stop troops from his private mercenary army from advancing towards Moscow over the weekend after reaching an agreement with Russian authorities to drop charges of mutiny against the Wagner soldiers and allowing him to leave the country for Belarus.
“You have protected the constitutional order, the lives, the security and freedom of our citizens. You saved our homeland from turmoil, and actually stopped civil war,” Putin told military personnel and security officers at a ceremony held in the Kremlin’s Cathedral Square.
The Russian president said that the security forces “stood in the way of disorder, which would have inevitably led to chaos.”
While Putin said he was proud of how the mutiny was thwarted, Belarus president Alexandr Lukashenko, who acted as mediator between Prigozhin and the Kremlin chief, refused to celebrate.
“There is no reason to make a hero of me, neither of Putin nor of Prigozhin, because the situation got out of hand, we thought it would resolve itself, but it did not,” Lukashenko told a meeting with the military in Minsk.
The agreement allows the Wagner troops to join the Russian Army, return to their homes or leave for Belarus, as well as the criminal cases for the uprising being dropped.
The Belarusian president also confirmed the arrival of the head of the Wagner Group in Minsk.
“He was provided with security guarantees, as he (Russian President Vladimir Putin) promised yesterday. (…) Yes, indeed, today he is in Belarus,” he said at a ceremony for the awarding of general ranks.
Lukashenko suggested that the exile of Prigozhin and the mercenaries who join him might only be temporary, but he was eager to benefit from their combat experience.
“They were assault groups on the frontline. They will tell us what is important now. Because they went through all this (…),” he said.
Lukashenko indicated that the mercenaries can advise Minsk “on tactics, weaponry, how to advance and how to defend,” calling the input “priceless.” EFE