The AFP is describing mixed emotions among Russians living in some large cities of “relief” and “sympathy” after Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner Group mounted a short-lived armed mutiny which made it halfway toward Moscow from the Rostov region on Saturday.
Prigozhin stood down and ordered his convoys to turn around, reportedly after the mediation of President Viktor Lukashenko, and will now go to Belarus – with his mercenaries being given the option of signing a contract with the Russian military. As we detailed, video clips showed a peaceful handover of military HQs in the south, particularly in Rostov-on-Don, after which the regular military command took back control.
On Sunday the Kremlin is attempting to show the world all is now “normal” and stable. For example, state media sources have announced that traffic on the entirety of the vital M-4 Don highway, which runs north-south, is back to normal with no problems. The day prior it was subject to road blockages and massive traffic jams, and reports of possible clashes or gunfire.
Importantly, Moscow also is seeking to reassure the Russian population and the world who its friends are. This as Western officials and media reports seemed to positively gloat over the brief mutinous Wagner “march” on Moscow. There seemed a collective sigh of disappointment from Kiev and its Western backers when the spiraling situation was halted via the Lukashenko ‘ceasefire’ deal.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has announced that China fully supported the Kremlin’s efforts to counter the Wagner rebellion.
According to the statement in TASS:
“The Chinese side expressed support for the efforts of the leadership of the Russian Federation to stabilize the situation in the country in connection with the events of June 24, and reaffirmed its interest in strengthening the unity and further prosperity of Russia,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The release came after a meeting in Beijing between China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko.
Interestingly, the readout from the Chinese side was sparse on details or an overt show of solidarity.
China’s readout from the meeting however said the two deputy foreign ministers had “exchanged views” on bilateral ties and “international and regional issues of common concern.”
A statement from China’s foreign ministry said, “As Russia’s friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era, China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving development and prosperity.” Additionally, China’s state-run Global Times issued a Sunday story with the headline, Wagner’s revolt weakening Putin’s authority ‘wishful thinking’ of the West: experts.
While Beijing has long tried to present itself as ‘neutral’ on the Ukraine war, it has frequently come under scathing attack by Washington and the West.