Jun 25, 2023

By Angus Gillespie

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The greatest challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his more than two decades in power has fizzled out after the rebellious mercenary commander who ordered his troops to march on Moscow agreed to go into exile and sounded the retreat.

But the brief revolt exposed vulnerabilities among Russian government forces, with Wagner Group soldiers able to move with armored vehicles into the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don and advance toward Moscow.

At one point, Wagner Group leader Evgeny Prigozhin had his 25,000 armed forces within 200km of the Russian capital.

Under the deal announced by the Kremlin, Prigozhin will go to neighboring Belarus, which has supported Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Prigozhin and his fighters will not face criminal charges thanks to the deal, which was orchestrated by the President of Belarus, and agreed to by Putin.

On Saturday, Putin addressed the Russian people on television, calling Prigozhin a traitor and that he was committing treason. He also compared the potential dire situation to the Russian Civil War more than a century ago and stated that the uprising could have threatened the very existence of the nation.

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