WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin is now weakened after Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s short-lived rebellion against the Russian military.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House, Biden was asked if Putin was weakened by the recent situation. “Yes,” he said, adding that Putin has “become a pariah around the world.”

Asked whether Prigozhin had planned to capture Russian military leaders, Biden said: “That remains to be seen.”

Biden said Monday that as the situation unfolded in Russia over the weekend, he had directed his national security team to give him hourly updates. He also said he spoke to key U.S. allies on a Zoom call “to make sure we were all on the same page.”

“They agreed with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse — let me emphasize — we gave Putin no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO,” Biden said.

He added, “We’re going to keep assessing the fallout of this weekend’s events and the implications for Russia and Ukraine, but it’s still too early to reach a definitive conclusion about where this is going. The ultimate outcome of all this remains to be seen.”

On Friday, Prigozhin led an armed revolt against Putin’s military forces and his mercenaries seized a Russian city in an effort to march toward Moscow. He abandoned the plan, however, and ordered his forces to turn back on Saturday, ending the rebellion less than 36 hours after it had started.

The Kremlin said Prigozhin would leave Russia for Belarus while avoiding criminal charges along with his fighters despite the revolt. Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko helped broker the deal to end the crisis.


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