Kremlin lashes out at mutiny 'gossip'

2023-06-30 08:45:30China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

The Kremlin dismissed a U.S. media report on Wednesday suggesting a top Russian general had known in advance about an aborted mutiny last week by the Wagner private military group, calling it "speculation and gossip".

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was responding to a question regarding a New York Times report citing United States officials as saying that General Sergey Surovikin, deputy commander of Russia's military operations in Ukraine, had advance direct knowledge of the planned mutiny.

"There will now be a lot of speculation, gossip and so on around these events," Peskov said. "I think this is one such example."

Russia is unified around President Vladimir Putin, he said. "The army, the people, everyone was next to the president," Peskov said.

Also on Wednesday, Putin paid a visit to the southern Dagestan region for the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Adha, and was greeted by supporters in the streets of Derbent city. Putin said he "did not doubt" the support of Russian citizens during the Wagner rebellion, according to a Kremlin statement.

Surovikin is a respected general who helped shore up defenses across battle lines after Ukraine's counteroffensive last year, The New York Times quoted U.S. officials as saying. Surovikin was replaced in January as commander, but retained influence and remained popular among the troops, the report said.

Surovikin, who has not been seen in public since Saturday when he made an appeal for the mutiny to be called off, has often been praised by Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin, Reuters reported.

Russian authorities confirmed on Wednesday that the crews of two aircraft were killed during Wagner's operation on Saturday.

EU summit scheduled

On Thursday, European Union leaders were scheduled to gather in Brussels to debate the repercussions of the aborted mutiny in Russia and pledge further support for Ukraine.

At the summit, the leaders would also talk with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and discuss what role the EU could play in Western commitments to bolster Ukraine's security.

A draft of the summit conclusion said EU countries were ready to contribute to future security commitments to Ukraine, to "help Ukraine defend itself in the long term", Reuters reported.

Countries, including the U.S., Britain, France and Germany, are discussing such measures ahead of a NATO summit next month in Vilnius, Lithuania, where Ukraine will be a major theme.

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