Biden Says U.S. And Allies Deny Involvement in Russian Mutiny Attempt

President Joe Biden reaffirmed on Monday that Western officials were not involved in the weekend mutiny attempt in Russia, speaking publicly for the first time since Wagner mercenary commander Yevgeny Prigozhin assembled his private armed forces against Russia’s authority.

Prigozhin commanded an armed insurgency marching on Moscow before ordering his forces to stand down on Saturday, sparking fears of turmoil in Russia.

Biden stated that he was in frequent touch with US allies in order to coordinate their response to the stalemate between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prigozhin, a former close ally who runs Wagner on the battlefield during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Biden stated that the United States and its allies, especially NATO, sought to avoid the perception that Americans instigated the mutiny.

“They agree with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse… to blame this on the West, to blame this on NATO,” Biden said of US partners in White House remarks on Monday. “We stated unequivocally that we were not involved and had nothing to do with it.” This was a battle within the Russian system.”

Biden Says U.S. And Allies Deny Involvement in Russian Mutiny Attempt

Biden stated that he had directed his national security advisers to prepare for a variety of eventualities, but that it was still too early to draw final conclusions about the weekend’s events for Russia and Ukraine.

“The ultimate outcome of all of this remains to be seen,” said Biden.

In a press conference, White House spokesman John Kirby reiterated Biden’s skepticism, saying it was unclear “where the bulk of the Wagner forces are.”

Kirby also stated that he was unaware of Prigozhin’s current location.

“We don’t know where this is going or if this is truly the end,” he added, reluctant to name the weekend’s events.

“We’re not slapping a bumper sticker on it,” he responded, when asked if the White House considers Prigozhin’s threat to be “a mutiny or attempted coup and armed rebellion.”

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He stated that Biden received “literally hour-by-hour updates from his national security team” over the weekend.

According to a White House official, tensions between Wagner and the Russian Ministry of Defense have been obvious for some time, with Prigozhin publicly criticizing and even threatening the Russian military on multiple occasions.

On Sunday, Biden spoke “at length” with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the events in Russia and reaffirmed the United States’ security, economic, and humanitarian support for Kyiv.

“I told him that no matter what happened in Russia — let me repeat, no matter what happened in Russia — we, the United States, would continue to support Ukraine’s defense, sovereignty, and territorial integrity,” Biden said, adding that they pledged to “stay in constant contact.”

Biden said he couldn’t reach one head of state over the weekend but will soon be speaking with him and “making sure we’re on the same page.”

Kirby identified that leader as Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

According to the White House, the president called with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Saturday to address the situation in Russia.

UPDATED (June 26, 2:50 p.m. ET): The initial name of the Wagner mercenary group’s leader was misspelled in an earlier version of this article. Yevgeny Prigozhin, not Yevgeniy, is his name.

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