UK MI6 Chief Says Putin Cut Deal To End Wagner Rebellion

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The head of Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6, said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir V. Putin “cut ties” with Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner’s mercenary group, at a time when Mr. Prigozhin failed to rebel last month.

The comments of Richard Moore, the head of MI6, in a rare speech in Prague at an event hosted by Politicoprovide information from a Western intelligence chief on Mr. Prigozhin’s surprising but short-lived rebellion last month.

Wagner’s commander went on a rampage against the Russian military last month, which saw his troops marching towards the capital before being abruptly halted. Two weeks later, the Kremlin revealed that Prigozhin and other Wagner leaders were involved. met with mr. Putin for three hours in the days after the rebellion.

“I think he probably feels pressured,” Moore said of Putin, speaking at the British ambassador’s residence in the Czech capital. “Prigozhin was his creation, created by Putin, yet he turned against him. He did not fight Prigozhin; he cut a deal to save his skin using the good offices of the leader of Belarus.”

Mr. Moore also reflected on the sudden march of Wagner’s troops into Moscow, the swiftness with which he stood, and Mr. Prigozhin’s escape – so far – from the fate of many of the Kremlin’s opponents.

“Prigozhin started that day as a traitor at breakfast, was excused at dinner, and a few days later, he was invited to tea,” Moore told the audience. “Therefore, there are some things that even the head of MI6 finds difficult to try to define, in terms of who is in and who.”

Last week, Putin said Wagner’s troops could continue to fight together with the Russian Army in Ukraine, but without their leader.

“He’s obviously stressed,” Moore said of Mr. Putin. “You don’t have a group of soldiers going up the road to Rostov and arriving 125 kilometers from Moscow unless you foresaw that it would happen.”

Mr Moore was not the only British official who weighed in on the matter on Wednesday. James Cleverly, the British foreign minister, speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, said that no matter how hard “Putin tries, the coup attempt does not look good.”

Julian Barnes contributed reporting from Aspen, Colorado.

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