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Putin ‘definitely’ weakened after Wagner rebellion in Russia, says Biden

(CNN) — US President Joe Biden told CNN on Wednesday that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was “definitely” weakened by the short-lived Wagner Group insurgency last weekend.

It was Biden’s strongest comment yet on how Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s rebellion has affected the figure of the Russian leader.

Biden and his team have been very cautious when discussing events in Russia, being careful not to provide Putin with a pretext to claim there is a Western plot to overthrow him. Yet this Wednesday, Biden broadened his view on the effects of the insurgency for Putin.

When asked if the Russian president has weakened, Biden replied: “Certainly.”

Later, expanding the scope of Putin’s weakness, Biden said it was hard to pinpoint.

“It’s hard to say, but he is clearly losing the war,” the US president told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, mistakenly referring to the war in Iraq instead of the war in Iraq. Ukraine.

“He’s losing the war at home. He’s become a pariah all over the world. And it’s not just NATO, it’s not just the European Union, it’s Japan,” he said. -he adds.

When asked again if Putin is weaker now than last week, Biden replied, “I know he is.”

Earlier this week, Biden tried to steer the United States away from Wagner’s rebellion in Russia, insisting in his first public statements since the events that the West had nothing to do with the insurgency.

Yet US intelligence agencies were able to determine in advance that Prigozhin was preparing to challenge the Russian military. Which shows how closely the United States was monitoring tensions between Moscow and Wagner’s boss.

Speaking from the White House, Biden suggested it was too early to tell how things would play out going forward.

“It’s still too early to draw a definitive conclusion on where this is going,” he said in the East Room. “The end result of all of this remains to be seen, but whatever happens next, I will continue to ensure our allies and partners are closely aligned on how we read and respond to the situation.”

Biden has spoken with the leaders of France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and Italy since the weekend events. He also spoke with the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

Hours earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Prigozhin rebellion could be beneficial for Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

“To the extent that Moscow is distracted by its own internal divisions, that may help,” Blinken said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

“As soon as Wagner’s own forces are no longer in the front line, it could help, because they have been effective. They literally throw people into a meat grinder that Putin himself created, but it has had some effect “, he continued. .