Multiple US officials told The Washington Post, that intelligence agencies learned in mid-June that the Russian mercernary group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, was planning an armed rebellion to take out the country’s military leaders who he has blamed for the bungled invasion of Ukraine.
“There were enough signals to be able to tell the leadership … that something was up,” an unnamed US official told the Post, referring to the White House. “So I think they were ready for it.”
The Independent has reached out to the White House for comment.
Prigozhin led a short-lived revolt in Russia on Saturday which saw his soldiers seize control of Rostov, a key location in Russia’s defense strategy, and making it within hours of Moscow before turning back.
The mercernary boss has been exiled to Belarus and his troops have been granted immunity after a deal was brokered by Belarus’s president late on Saturday evening.
Mr Putin remains the Russian leader after a whirlwind day that amounted to the greatest challenge to his rule in years. It remains unclear if he offered greater concessions to Mr Prigozhin beyond the immunity deal extended to him and his men.
The White House confirmed on Saturday that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation. The Department of Defense (DoD) released a statement confirming that Secretary Lloyd Austin had convened a call with his counterparts in the UK, Canada, France, Germany and Poland following news of the coup.
“The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation continues to develop. Secretary Austin also reiterated that support by the United States for Ukraine will not change,” DoD said.
A senior official with the Biden administration also told the Post: “Tensions between the Wagner Group and the Russian Ministry of Defense are no secret. We have all seen Mr. Prigozhin publicly criticize, warn, and even threaten the Russian military on any number of occasions.”
In video remarks on Saturday, Mr Putin denounced the Wagner Group troops as traitors and called the operation a “stab in the back”.
“Those who mutiny have betrayed Russia and I urge anybody involved in it to cease any kind of participation in armed conflict,” he said. “These people will be brought to justice on behalf of our people.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies