Putin 'paralysed and gave no orders' in first hours of Wagner rebellion

Russian president Vladimir Putin was ‘unable to act decisively’ for several hours after the Wagner group launched its attempted coup, Ukrainian and other security officials say.

Yevgeniy Prigozhin, head of the private mercenary group, launched his attack on June 24 – but despite being warned two or three days ahead of time of the possible rebellion, Putin was ‘paralysed’ for most of the day, the Washington Post reports.

He made no orders for several hours, the officials said, and despite steps being taken to boost security at strategic locations including the Kremlin in the days before the coup, no other actions were taken.

A European security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said: ‘Putin had time to take the decision to liquidate [the rebellion] and arrest the organisers.

‘Then when it began to happen, there was paralysis on all levels. There was absolute dismay and confusion. For a long time, they did not know how to react.’

Wagner’s mercenary forces had become a major part of the Kremlin’s war efforts – and Putin’s slow reaction suggests he is fearful of directly countering Prigozhin.

The lack of orders from above left local Russian officials to decide for themselves how to act when Wagner troops entered the city of Rostov last month.

They seized control of the Russian military’s main command centre, before moving into the city of Voronezh and starting to head towards Moscow.

Without clear orders, local military and security chiefs didn’t try to stop the Wagner troops, who were heavily armed.

Many on a local level couldn’t believe Wagner’s actions were taking place without some sort of agreement from the Kremlin, the European sources add.

A senior Ukrainian security official said: ‘The local authorities did not receive any commands from the leadership.

‘From our point of view this is the biggest sign of the unhealthy situation inside Russia.

‘The authoritarian system is formed in such a way that without a very clear command from the leadership, people don’t do anything.

‘When the leadership is in turmoil and disarray, it is the same situation at the local level and even worse.’

One senior NATO official said some senior figures in Moscow appeared ready to rally behind Prigozhin had he succeeded in achieving his demands.

‘There seem to have been important people in the power structures who seem to have even been sort of waiting for this, as if his attempt had been more successful, they would also’ have joined the plot, this official said.

A Kremlin spokesman said these intelligence assessments were ‘nonsense’ and shared ‘by people who have zero information’.

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