Putin appears after Wagner rebellion and offers mercenaries option to join the army

The Russian leader said the group's mercenaries were tricked into betraying the country and its people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin broke his silence and spoke publicly about the mutiny led by the Wagner group, condemning what happened and giving the mercenaries options.

On Monday, the Russian president gave his first public speech since the Wagner mercenaries called on the population to revolt against the country's military command. During the statements, the president thanked the "patriotism" of his citizens during the rebellion and condemned the actions of Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the group.

"I have gathered them together to thank them for their work over the past few days," Putin said as he was joined by Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Presidential Chief of Staff Anton Vaino, Russian National Guard Director Viktor Zolotov and other senior officials.

Putin accused the Wagner group mercenaries of betraying the country and its people. However, he said those who participated in the riot were deceived, so they "could not understand" that they were committing criminal actions and dividing the country.

The president accused Ukraine and "their Western sponsors" of being behind the rebellion. "The Nazis in Kyiv and their Western sponsors and various assorted traitors wanted bloodshed. They wanted Russian soldiers to kill each other. They wanted peaceful civilians and military personnel to die so that in the end Russia is defeated, our society is fractured and choked on the blood of internal strife," he said.

Putin's offer

Putin announced during his speech that he was ready to receive Wagner group mercenaries into the army and invited those who did not want to do so to return to their families or leave for Belarus where Wagner's leader is currently supposed to be.

"Today you have the possibility to continue serving Russia by entering into a contract with the Ministry of Defence or other law enforcement agencies or to return to your family and close ones… Whoever wants to can go to Belarus," he stated.