UK – Rishi Sunak, British Prime Minister, said he had been in contact with allies to discuss the violent uprising of the Wagner mercenary group in Russia. UK Ministry of Defense officials called the uprising “the most significant challenge” to the Kremlin in recent memory.
Following threats to overthrow the Moscow military leadership of mercenary commander Yevgeny Prigozhin, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the actions of the private military company “treason” and vowed to protect his country. The UK Government’s Cobra Emergency Committee met under the leadership of Foreign Secretary James Cleverly to discuss developments.
The Prime Minister suggested he would meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Western leaders on Saturday, and called on all parties involved to save civilian lives. As Sunak told the BBC, “we are monitoring the situation closely as it is evolving on the ground at this very moment.” All parties must act responsibly and protect civilians; beyond that, I have little to add at this time.
When asked if he had contacted Zelenksy, Sunak replied, “I am in contact with our allies.” You’d think we’d be in sync on something like this, and I’ll contact some of them later today, but the issue continues to grow. He wouldn’t commit to saying whether Putin’s challenge is good or bad. When asked what UK citizens should do now that they are stuck in Russia, Sunak said the UK had “longstanding travel advice against travel to Russia” and that individuals should “continue to check the Department of Foreign Affairs website for updates.”
Cleverly said, “we are monitoring the situation carefully and liaising closely with our allies” and “we continue to urge UK citizens to follow the travel advice of the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office)”. A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘The Foreign Secretary chaired a COBR meeting to review the latest situation, particularly in relation to UK nationals in Russia.’
As Wagner’s forces appear to enter the Russian capital, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that “in the coming hours, the loyalty of Russian security forces…will be key to the unfolding of the crisis.” According to the department’s latest intelligence report, the conflict between the Wagner Group and the Russian Defense Ministry “escalated into an outright military confrontation” early Saturday.