Blinken ordered State Dept. staff not to discuss Wagner mutiny: Axios
A report by Axios citing US officials says the US Secretary of State aimed to avoid any links to the events.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent an urgent cable message on Friday to State Department personnel instructing them to abstain from discussing PMC Wagner's mutiny in Russia, according to a report by Axios, which cited three US officials.
Earlier, a report by The Wall Street Journal revealed that US diplomats and representatives were also messaged to only state that Washington is monitoring the situation closely and make no further comments regarding the situation in Russia.
Diplomats were instructed to say that the US is "watching closely as the situation unfolds" and that "the United States has no intention of involving itself in this matter."
"Regarding host governments, chief of missions and embassy staff should not pro-actively engage host government officials without prior authorization from Washington," the message read, stressing that "missions should not respond directly to any press inquiries."
Sources of Axios say the message was done to ensure that no diplomat makes a statement that would raise questions regarding US involvement in the mutiny, as Blinken told diplomats to say that he and his closest staff are dealing with the situation. Another source said the message was issued since the State Department did not have enough information on the events in Russia to permit it to make a statement.
However, US intelligence agencies learned that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Wagner, might be planning a mutiny and alerted the White House and other government agencies so they would not be caught off guard, The Washington Post reported on Sunday, citing several US officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
According to unidentified sources quoted in the newspaper, the White House, top officials at the Department of State, the Pentagon, and members of Congress were informed by the intelligence agencies over the last two weeks.
Meanwhile, The New York Times said the US spy services were reluctant to declassify the material because of fear that Russia would accuse them of planning a coup. According to the investigation, they also showed "little interest" in assisting Russian authorities.
Putin dissolves Wagner
Over the weekend, Russia went through what is possibly the most critical moment of its timeline since the war in Ukraine began, narrowly averting a full-scale civil war after the head of Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, accused the Russian Ministry of Defense of striking a Wagner military camp and vowed revenge, which the Ministry categorically denied.
On Saturday, Prigozhin agreed to de-escalate the situation after he accepted a proposal from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to move to neighboring Belarus.
President Vladimir Putin addressed Russians on Monday saying that those who organized the Wagner mutiny abandoned not only their country and people but also the men who were tricked into this "crime".
Putin said the "neo-Nazis in Kiev" and their Western backers desired the same end as the mutiny organizers: an intra-Russian battle in which Russian soldiers would kill one another.
He emphasized that the mutiny's planners were fully aware that their uprising would have been put down and that their actions were ultimately intended to harm Russia.
"I emphasize that from the very beginning of the events, all necessary decisions were immediately taken to neutralize the threat that arose, to protect the constitutional order, the life, and security of our citizens," Putin said.