In a speech to the Russian nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin excoriated the organizers of the Wagner rebellion by calling them "traitors." The Russian leader said the organizers lied to their own people and "pushed them to death, under fire, to shoot their own," deflecting Wagner fighters' culpability for storming the southern city of Rostov, which they temporarily seized on their way toward Moscow.
Putin invited the Wagner soldiers and their commanders, whom he called "patriots," to join the Russian military by signing with the Russian Ministry of Defense or with other law enforcement agencies. He also gave them the option if they wanted to go back to their families and friends or to move to Belarus should they choose.
The Russian leader made no mention of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the revolt. However, he said the organizers of this rebellion betrayed "their country, their people, betrayed those who were drawn into the crime."
He also said that through this revolt, the organizers gave Russian enemies what they wanted — "Russian soldiers to kill each other, so that military personnel and civilians would die, so that in the end Russia would lose … choke in a bloody civil strife."
Putin also said he had deliberately let Saturday's 24-hour mutiny by the Wagner militia go on as long as it did to avoid bloodshed, and that it had reinforced national unity.
"Time was needed, among other things, to give those who had made a mistake a chance to come to their senses, to realize that their actions were firmly rejected by society, and that the adventure in which they had been involved had tragic and destructive consequences for Russia and for our state," he said.
Prigozhin on Monday made his first public comments since the brief rebellion he launched against Russia's military leadership.
"We did not have the goal of overthrowing the existing regime and the legally elected government," he said in an 11-minute audio message released on the Telegram messaging app.
Instead, Prigozhin said, he called his actions "a march to justice" triggered by a deadly attack on his private, Kremlin-linked military outfit by the Russian military.
"We started our march because of an injustice," the Wagner chief said, claiming that the Russian military had attacked a Wagner camp with missiles and then helicopters, killing about 30 of its men. Russia denied attacking the camp.
Putin met Monday evening with the head of Russia's main domestic security service, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and other ministers, according to Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov, the Interfax news agency reported.
The participants included Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov; the head of Kremlin administration, Anton Vaino; Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev; the director of the FSB security service, Alexander Bortnikov; National Guard Director Viktor Zolotov; the head of the Federal Protection Service, Dmitry Kochnev; and the chairman of the federal Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin; Interfax said.
Prigozhin claimed the Wagner group was the most effective fighting force in Russia "and even the world." He said the way Wagner had been able to take control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don without bloodshed and the way it sent an armed convoy to within 200 kilometers (124 miles) of Moscow was a testament to the effectiveness of its fighters.
His forces halted the rebellion late Saturday under an agreement brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko.
Prigozhin didn't offer any details as to his current whereabouts or his future plans. He was last seen Saturday, smiling in the back of an SUV as he departed Rostov-on-Don after ordering his men to stand down. The terms of the Kremlin's negotiation with the 62-year-old Wagner Group founder have not yet been divulged.
Earlier, senior Russian officials displayed their unity standing by Putin. Russian state television showed video Monday of Shoigu visiting with troops in his first public appearance since the brief rebellion of Prigozhin and his forces.
The report did not specify when or where Shoigu met with the troops and commanders identified as part of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Putin's appointed prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, acknowledged that Russia had faced "a challenge to its stability," and called for solidarity.
"We need to act together, as one team and maintain the unity of all forces, rallying around the president," he told a televised government meeting.
Russian intelligence services were investigating whether Western spy agencies played a role in the aborted mutiny, the TASS news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Monday.
The U.S. intelligence community "was aware" that the mutiny orchestrated by Prigozhin "was a possibility" and briefed the U.S. Congress "accordingly" before it began, said a source familiar with the issue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Earlier, U.S. President Joe Biden said, "We made clear we were not involved, we had nothing to do with this." Biden's message that the West was not involved was sent directly to the Russians through various diplomatic channels, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters. He did not characterize Russia's response.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Monday that the mutiny in Russia was "an internal Russian matter" but that it showed "the big strategic mistake that President Putin made with his illegal annexation of Crimea and the war against Ukraine," while British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Monday the aborted mutiny posed an unprecedented challenge to the Russian leader.
"Prigozhin's rebellion is an unprecedented challenge to President Putin's authority, and it is clear cracks are emerging in Russian support for the war," he told parliament.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday commented that Prigozhin's rebellion against Russia's military leadership showed "very serious cracks" in Putin's two-decade rule and "questions the very premise" of his 16-month war against Ukraine.
"We see cracks emerging," Blinken said on ABC's "This Week" TV program. "Where they go — if anywhere — when they get there, very hard to say. I don't want to speculate on it. But I don't think we've seen the final act."
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.