United States, allies not involved in the uprising against Putin

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday that a brief uprising by Russian mercenaries against the Kremlin was part of a struggle within the Russian system and that the United States and its allies were not involved in it. .

“We made it clear we weren’t involved, we had nothing to do with it,” Biden said in his first comments about the Wagner mercenary uprising that fizzled out over the weekend.

At a White House event, Biden addressed the dramatic power struggle that erupted over the weekend when mutineers headed toward Moscow only to halt before reaching the capital.

Biden said he asked his national security team to update him “hour by hour” and prepare for a range of scenarios, which he did not detail.

Russian intelligence was investigating whether Western spy agencies played a role in the abortive mutiny, TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Monday.

The U.S. intelligence community “was aware” that the mutiny orchestrated by Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin “was a possibility” and briefed Congress “accordingly” before it began, said a source familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Biden said he spoke with key allies over a videoconference to ensure everyone was on the same page and coordinated in their response.

“They agreed with me that we had to make sure that we gave no excuse (to Russian President Vladimir) to Putin – no excuse to Putin – to blame the West and blame NATO,” he said.

Biden, who spoke with Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelinskiy on Sunday, said he would speak to him later Monday or Tuesday morning to make sure they were “on the same page.”

He also planned to speak later with the leader of another ally whose name he did not reveal.

He said he and his team would continue to assess the fallout from the incident.

“It is still too early to draw a definitive conclusion on the direction this is taking,” he added.

He said his message to allies was “it’s important that we stay fully coordinated”.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay, Phil Stewart, Kanishka Singh and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Mark Porter, Alistair Bell and Alex Richardson)

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