The Russian ministry warned members of the Wagner mercenary group not to take part in the “armed coup”. Shortly after, Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a televised address to the citizens of Russia. Here is what he said.
I appeal to the citizens of Russia, to the personnel of the Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies and special services, to the soldiers and commanders who are now fighting at their battle positions, repelling the enemy’s attacks and doing so heroically—I know, I spoke again tonight with the commanders of all directions. I am also addressing those who have been lured into this criminal enterprise and pushed onto the path of the gravest crime—armed mutiny—through deceit or threats.
Russia today is fighting an uphill battle for its future, repelling the aggression of the neo-Nazis and their masters. Virtually the entire military, economic and information machine of the West is directed against us. We are fighting for the lives and security of our people, for our sovereignty and independence. For the right to be and remain Russia – a state with a thousand-year history.
This battle, when the fate of our people is being decided, requires the unity of all forces, unity, consolidation and responsibility. When everything that weakens us, any kind of discord, which our external enemies can and do use to undermine us from inside, must be put aside.
And so the actions that split our unity are, in essence, an apostasy from our people, from our comrades-in-arms who are now fighting on the frontlines. It is a stab in the back of our country and our people.
This is exactly the blow that was dealt to Russia in 1917, when the country fought the First World War. But the victory was stolen from her. Intrigues, squabbles, politicking behind the backs of the army and the people resulted in the greatest shock, the destruction of the army and the disintegration of the state, the loss of vast territories. The result was the tragedy of the civil war.
The Russians killed the Russians, the brothers killed their brothers, and the lucrative interests were reaped by all kinds of political adventurers and foreign forces who divided the country and tore it apart.
We will not allow this to happen again. We will protect both our people and our statehood against all threats. Including internal treachery.
And what we have faced is precisely betrayal. Excessive ambitions and vested interests have led to treason. Betrayal of their country, their people, and the cause for which the fighters and commanders of Wagner fought and died alongside our other units. The heroes who liberated Soledar and Artemovsk, towns and villages of Donbass, fought and gave their lives for Novorossiya, for the unity of the Russian world. Their name and glory have also been betrayed by those who are trying to organise rebellion, pushing the country towards anarchy and fratricide. To defeat, ultimately, and capitulation.
I repeat, any internal turmoil is a mortal threat to our statehood, to us as a nation. It is a blow to Russia, to our people. And our actions to defend the Fatherland against such a threat will be tough. Everyone who deliberately chose the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed insurrection, who chose the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, will suffer an inevitable punishment, they will be held accountable both before the law and before our people.
The Armed Forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders, and additional anti-terrorist measures are being introduced in Moscow, the Moscow region and a number of other regions. Decisive action will also be taken to stabilise the situation in Rostov-on-Don. It remains complex, with the work of the civilian and military authorities effectively blocked.
As the President of Russia and Commander-in-Chief, as a citizen of Russia, I will do my utmost to defend the country, to protect the constitutional order, the lives, security and freedom of its citizens.
Those who organized and prepared the military uprising, who raised arms against their comrades-in-arms, have betrayed Russia. And they will be held accountable for it. And I urge those who are being dragged into this crime not to make the fatal and tragic, an irreversible mistake, and to make the only right choice – to stop participating in criminal actions.
I believe that we will preserve and defend what is dear and sacred to us, and together with our Motherland we will overcome any trials, we will become even stronger.