Thursday, July 18, 2024

Kazakhstan president abandons Vladimir Putin, says Wagner forces rebellion internal Russian affair

The Russian leader is facing the biggest challenge to his decades-long grip on power.

• June 24, 2023
Russia's President Vladimir Putin and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan has rejected Russia’s President Vladimir Putin’s request for help in the ongoing rebellion consuming the country. 

In a telephone conversation between the duo, on Saturday, Mr Tokayev said the ongoing events in the country are an “internal affair.” 

Mr Putin had earlier informed Mr Tokayev about the unfolding situation in the Russian Federation while appreciating Kazakhstan for their understanding.

Meanwhile, Wagner mercenary group has threatened to “go all the way” to topple Russia’s military formation. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin said his fighters had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia, entering the city of Rostov-on-Don. 

Mr Prigozhin said his men would destroy anyone who stood in their way, claiming that his forces had shut down a Russian military helicopter that “opened fire on the civilian convoy”.

The Wagner Group is a private army of mercenaries that has been fighting alongside the regular Russian army in Ukraine. 

Although tension has been growing between the two formations on how the war has been fought, Mr Prigozhin launched vocal criticism of Russia’s military leadership in recent months, saying Mr Putin authorised the bombing of his fighters in Ukraine days ago.

But speaking during an emergency televised address in Moscow, Mr Putin assured that he would not allow Russia to slip into civil war.

He gave the assurance after the leader Mr Prighozin seized a key military headquarters in Rostov, which has been overseeing the Ukraine offensive. 

He said the happening between the formation is ” exactly a betrayal”, adding that he’s ready to join hands to protect the people and state from any threats, including internal betrayal.

“Big ambitions and personal interests led to treason. Betrayal of one’s own country and people and of the cause that fighters of Wagner were dying for alongside our soldiers. Heroes who liberated Soledar and Artemovsk, towns and cities of the Donbas, who fought and gave their lives to Novorossiya and for the unity of the Russian world. 

“Their name and glory have been betrayed by those who are trying to organise the mutiny, pushing the country into anarchy and fratricide, to a defeat, in the end, and capitulation.

“I repeat: any internal mutiny is a deadly threat to our state, to us as a nation. It’s a blow against Russia, against our people. And our actions to defend the fatherland from such a threat will be brutal.

“Anyone who consciously went on the path of betrayal, who prepared the armed mutiny, went on the path of blackmail and terrorist actions, will be punished inevitably. They will answer before the law and our people,” Mr Putin added. 

Western countries, led by the United States, said they would continue to monitor the situation, which appeared to be unfolding rapidly as Wagner fighters appeared determined to seize Moscow as soon as possible. Mr Putin’s current location remained unknown, but credible reports already said he fled the Russian capital for the second-largest city St Petersburg. The Kremlin denied the report, but did not present any evidence to contradict Mr Putin’s plane that was sighted heading towards St Petersburg on Saturday afternoon. 

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