Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to continue the war in Ukraine, speaking in a pre-recorded interview broadcast on state television on Sunday.
The interview was taped on June 21 but broadcast after the Kremlin resolved its first coup attempt against Moscow in three decades.
“I am mainly focused on the special military operation,” Putin said in an interview with Rossiya-1 TV, using his regime’s term for the invasion of Ukraine. « My day begins and ends with this. »
« Lately I’ve been staying up late » monitoring the situation, he added. « Of course, I always have to communicate. »
Putin’s message to be in control was sent after the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary force Moscow depended on for its war against Ukraine, attempted a lightning march on Moscow from the Russian-Ukrainian border, taking the elite Russia and the world by surprise.
On Saturday, Putin had to rely on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step in personally and negotiate a deal with Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin to avoid bloodshed. Prigozhin agreed to move to Belarus and Wagner’s troops appeared to withdraw on Sunday.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described Wagner’s coup attempt as « humiliating » for Putin.
“You almost canceled Putin,” Podolyak said in a tweets. “Prigozhin humiliated Putin [and] the State and demonstrated that there is no longer a monopoly on violence”.
This article has been updated to show that the interview was conducted on June 21st.