Biden’s Perspective on Wagner: Illuminating the ‘Internal Struggle’ within the Russian System

**President Biden Declares U.S. and NATO Were Not Involved in the Wagner Insurrection in Russia**

President Joe Biden has stated that the United States and NATO had no involvement in the short-lived insurrection carried out by the Wagner mercenary group in Russia. He described the uprising as “a struggle within the Russian system” and expressed his concerns about the challenges it poses to President Vladimir Putin’s authority. Biden and U.S. allies supporting Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion are determined to distance themselves from the mercenaries’ insurgency to avoid giving Putin an opportunity to rally Russians to his defense.

**Biden and Allies Stress the Need to Stay Out of the Mercenaries’ Uprising**

President Biden and administration officials have refrained from making immediate assessments of the implications of the Wagner Group’s 22-hour uprising for Russia’s war in Ukraine, mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, or Russia itself. While acknowledging the need to evaluate the fallout of the events and their implications for Russia and Ukraine, Biden emphasized that it was too early to draw definitive conclusions. President Putin, in his first public comments since the rebellion, attributed the mutiny’s failure to the miscalculations of “Russia’s enemies,” whom he identified as “neo-Nazis in Kyiv, their Western patrons, and other national traitors.” Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that the special services were investigating whether Western intelligence services were involved in the rebellion led by Prigozhin.

**U.S. Diplomats Reiterate That the U.S. Government Considers the Issue a Domestic Affair**

Throughout the tumultuous weekend in Russia, U.S. diplomats maintained communication with their counterparts in Moscow to emphasize that the American government regarded the matter as a domestic affair for Russia. They made it clear that the U.S. was only a bystander in the events. The diplomats also stressed to Moscow the expectation that Russia would ensure the safety of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and any detained Americans. During a video call with U.S.-allied leaders, President Biden and the leaders were determined to avoid giving Putin any excuse to blame the West for the uprising. They emphasized that they were not involved and that the events were a result of internal struggles within the Russian system.

**U.S. and NATO’s Desire to Avoid Being Blamed for Destabilizing Putin’s Regime**

Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Russia, explained that the U.S. and NATO did not want to be blamed for destabilizing Putin’s regime. He highlighted how Putin has historically alleged clandestine U.S. involvement in events as a way to diminish public support among Russians for challenges to the Russian system. The U.S. and NATO are wary of being accused of trying to destabilize Putin and are keen to avoid being held accountable for the rebellion.

**Feud Between Prigozhin and Russian Military Causes Mutiny**

A long-standing feud between Prigozhin and Russia’s military leadership, which had festered throughout the war, erupted into the mutiny led by the Wagner Group. The mercenaries left Ukraine and seized a military headquarters in a southern Russian city. They advanced towards Moscow but ultimately turned back in a deal with uncertain terms. President Biden’s national security team kept him updated on the rebel forces’ movements and prepared for various scenarios as the Russian crisis unfolded. While Biden did not provide specifics about the scenarios, national security spokesman John Kirby addressed concerns about extreme actions by Putin to reassert his command. Kirby underlined that escalation of the war beyond the level of violence already experienced in Ukraine was not beneficial for any party involved.

**Attempts to Downplay the Crisis by Prigozhin and Russian Defense Minister Shoigu**

Following the mutiny, both Prigozhin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu made public comments aiming to downplay the crisis. Prigozhin released an audio statement where he claimed that his actions were intended to prevent the destruction of the Wagner private military company, particularly in response to an attack on a Wagner camp that resulted in the deaths of approximately 30 fighters.

**Biden Reaffirms Support for Ukraine’s Defense and Sovereignty**

President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the weekend to reiterate U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Biden emphasized that regardless of what happened in Russia, the U.S. would continue to stand with Ukraine.

**Pentagon Set to Announce Additional Military Aid for Ukraine**

The Pentagon is expected to announce a plan to provide Ukraine with up to $500 million in additional military aid. This aid includes over 50 heavily armored vehicles and missiles for air defense systems. The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, explained that the aid has not yet been publicly announced.

**U.S. Officials Strive to Understand China’s Response to the Wagner Revolt**

White House officials are closely monitoring how China reacts to the Wagner revolt and its potential implications for the China-Russia relationship. China and Russia have a close partnership, and China has considered sending weaponry to Russia for use in Ukraine. It is unclear whether China will follow through on this plan. The recent developments in Russia have been unsettling to Chinese leadership, and it may prompt them to apply pressure to Putin to end the war in Ukraine.

In conclusion, President Biden and U.S. allies are determined to distance themselves from the Wagner mercenary group’s uprising in Russia. They have reiterated that the U.S. and NATO had no involvement and regard the events as a struggle within the Russian system. The U.S. continues to support Ukraine’s defense and sovereignty while urging Russia to ensure the safety of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and detained Americans. The Pentagon plans to provide additional military aid to Ukraine, while the White House is closely monitoring China’s response to the Wagner revolt and its potential impact on the China-Russia relationship.

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