PARIS — Countries around the world were on Saturday closely watching events unfolding in Russia, where a mutiny by the Wagner mercenary group posed the most serious challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long rule.
Below are what governments and analysts are saying about the extraordinary situation taking place in nuclear-armed Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Wagner mutiny showed Russia was weak.
“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness. And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later,” he said in a statement on social media.
The United States
US President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation in Russia and Washington and “will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments,” National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said.
European Union chief Charles Michel tweeted that the bloc was “closely monitoring the situation in Russia as it unfolds. In touch with European leaders and @G7 partners.”
“This is clearly an internal Russian issue,” he tweeted, adding that “our support for Ukraine” remains “unwavering.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urged “all parties to be responsible and to protect civilians.”
“We’re in touch with our allies as the situation evolves. I’ll be speaking to some of them later today and the most important thing is for all parties to behave responsibly,” he told the BBC.
In Berlin, “the government is closely following the events in Russia,” a spokesman told AFP. The foreign ministry advised avoiding central Moscow and government and military buildings in the capital.
In Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron “is following the situation very closely,” the Elysee said. “We remain focussed on supporting Ukraine.”
In Rome, Italian “Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is closely following the events taking place in Russia, which show how the aggression against Ukraine is causing instability also within Russia,” her office said in a statement.
Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said that for the moment there was no concern for Italians living in Russia, but said they were “advised to be cautious.”
In Sweden, Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom tweeted: “The government is closely following the situation in Russia. The situation is serious.”
In Norway, Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said Oslo was “closely following the dramatic situation in Russia and are in close contact with the embassy in Moscow.”
Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder tweeted: “The situation in Russia is serious. I continue to follow developments… to see what impact it has on the conflict.”
The UK Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update that “this represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times.”
“Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out,” it said in a tweet.
The US-based Institute for the Study of War said the armed rebellion was “unlikely to succeed” but that “an armed Wagner attack against the Russian military leadership in Rostov-on-Don would have significant impacts on Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.”
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