October 3, 2023

The pinnacle of Britain’s MI6 intelligence company mentioned Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin “reduce a deal” with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, founding father of the Wagner mercenary group, throughout Mr. Prigozhin’s failed rebellion final month.

Feedback by Richard Moore, head of MI6, in a uncommon speech in Prague at an occasion hosted by Politico, provide a Western intelligence official’s perspective on Mr. Prigozhin’s gorgeous however short-lived riot final month.

Final month, the Wagner chief staged a mutiny in opposition to the Russian army, throughout which his mercenaries marched in the direction of the capital earlier than abruptly stopping. Greater than two weeks later, the Kremlin reported that Mr. Prigozhin and different Wagnerian leaders met with Mr. Putin inside three hours of the tip of the rebellion.

“I feel he is in all probability underneath some strain,” Mr. Moore mentioned of Mr. Putin, talking on the British ambassador’s residence within the Czech capital. “Prigozhin was his creature, utterly created by Putin, and but he turned his again on him. He actually didn’t resist Prigogine; he made a deal to save lots of his personal pores and skin, utilizing the great places of work of the chief of Belarus.”

Mr. Moore additionally mirrored on the dizzying nature of the Wagnerites’ sudden march in the direction of Moscow, the pace with which they stopped, and the way Mr. Prigogine appeared to have escaped – to date – the grim destiny of many Kremlin critics.

“That day, Prigozhin began out as a traitor at breakfast, was pardoned for dinner, and some days later he was invited to tea,” Mr. Moore advised the viewers. “So there are some issues that even the MI6 chief finds troublesome to interpret by way of who’s in and who is just not.”

Mr. Putin mentioned final week that Wagner troops may proceed to combat alongside the Russian military in Ukraine, however with out their commander.

“He’s clearly underneath strain,” Mr. Moore mentioned of Mr. Putin. “You do not have a bunch of mercenaries advancing alongside the freeway in the direction of Rostov and ending up inside 125 kilometers of Moscow in case you did not fairly predict that it was going to occur.”

Mr Moore was not the one British official to touch upon Wednesday. James Cleverly, British International Secretary, talking on the Aspen Safety Discussion board, mentioned that “regardless of how Putin tries to spin it, a coup try by no means seems good.”

Julian Barnes supplied reporting from Aspen, Colorado.

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