WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Monday insisted that the United States and its Western allies were not involved in a mutiny attempt in Russia over the weekend.
Speaking in the East Room of the White House, Biden said he has contacted U.S. allies to coordinate their response between President Vladimir Putin of Russia and Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin.
“They agree with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse … to blame this on the West, to blame this on NATO,” Biden said. “We made clear that we were not involved and had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle within the Russian system.”
The remarks are the first public comments by Biden since Prigozhin’s mobilized his military forces against Russia’s leadership.
Biden said he instructed his national security advisers to prepare for several different situations but it was still too early to determine the implications of the weekend’s event for Russia and Ukraine.
“The ultimate outcome of all this remains to be seen,” Biden said.
Later in the day, White House spokesperson John Kirby reiterated Biden’s comments.
“We don’t know where this goes or whether this is really the end,” he said. “It remains unclear where the bulk of the Wagner forces are.”
He said Biden received “literally hour-by-hour updates from his national security team” throughout the weekend at Camp David.
Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday, saying there is strong support from the U.S. in security, economic, and humanitarian support to Ukraine.
“I told him that no matter what happened in Russia — let me say it again, no matter what happened in Russia — we, the United States, would continue to support Ukraine’s defense and its sovereignty and its territorial integrity,” Biden said.
Biden also added he would be speaking with a world leader that he could not reach over the weekend but did not give a name. Kirby later confirmed it was Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.