Pardoning to Wagner soldiers is proof that Putin’s power has declined

An attempted armed mutiny in Russia shows “real cracks” in President Vladimir Putin’s authority, America’s top diplomat Antony Blinken has said.

He told US media that the rebellion by Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner fighters was a “direct challenge” to Mr Putin, forcing him into an amnesty agreement.

The deal halted Wagner’s march on Moscow on Saturday. The mercenaries had earlier seized two Russian cities.

Mr Putin accused the group of treason, but all charges were later dropped.

Under the deal, Wagner fighters must return to their field bases and Prigozhin move to Russia’s western neighbour Belarus, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko was involved in the negotiations.

The current whereabouts of Prigozhin, a former Putin loyalist, are unknown. He was last seen in public leaving Rostov-on-Don – one of the two southern cities where his fighters had taken control of military facilities.

Prigozhin’s press service said he would answer questions from the media “when he has normal communication means”, Russia’s RTVI news website reported on Sunday afternoon. It provided no further details.

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