Russian president Vladimir Putin says Wagner group were 'taking revenge for failures at the front'

President Vladimir Putin thanked mercenaries for not letting the armed rebellion deteriorate into 'bloodshed' in his latest address, as ITV News Correspondent Emma Murphy reports on the latest developments

Those involved in the Wagner Group's aborted armed rebellion wanted "Russian soldiers to kill each other" and were "taking revenge for their failures at the front", president Vladimir Putin has said in a recorded address.

Speaking for the first time since Saturday's short-lived insurrection, the Russian leader said he would keep his “promise” to members of the mercenary group who “want to go to Belarus”, while others had the choice to sign a contract with the ministry of defence.

Putin thanked the nation for unity and Wagner fighters for avoiding "bloodshed" after the revolt.

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Russians had been told to prepare for an address which would determine the future of the country - what they got was described by a former Russian commander on Telegram on Monday night as "pitiful".

Earlier, Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led the aborted armed rebellion on Saturday, denied the stalled revolt was an attempt to overthrow Putin.

Breaking his silence on Monday, Prigozhin insisted he was acting because "society demanded it".

In an 11-minute audio statement, the 62-year-old Russian oligarch, whose short-lived insurrection ended with retreat after 24 hours, defended the move as an attempt to hold those he said had made mistakes in the war in Ukraine to account.

The mercenary group's chief said they had turned around because they did not want to shed any Russian blood as he railed against the "massive errors" by Moscow in what Russians call "a special military operation".

Prigozhin also voiced concern that his group, that have helped Russia's invasion of Ukraine, would be absorbed by the Russian military.

He claimed civilians supported the march on Saturday, waving Wagner flags and emblems, and that President of Belarus Alexander Grigoryevich Lukashenko had offered to further the work of the Wagner Group.

Prigozhin vowed to take "revenge" on the Russian military over the weekend for what he says is the mistreatment of his troops, and ordered his men to cross over from Ukraine to Russia in order to oust the country's leadership.

Despite this, the greatest challenge to President Putin in his more than two decades in power quickly fizzled out, with the two sides reaching a deal for Prigozhin to go into exile and sound the retreat.

On Monday, Russian media reported a criminal probe against Prigozhin continued, and his whereabouts remained unknown.

Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine, rebuked the West for what not appreciating the danger of the attempted revolt. He told ITV News: "The disintegration of Russia will be a dangerous challenge. We should be preparing for it now with all our strength." Western leaders say they are not underestimating the Russians.

As President Biden distances the US and NATO from the aborted armed revolt led by the Wagner group over the weekend, Robert Moore analyses America's response

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly described the mutiny as an “unprecedented challenge to Putin’s authority" in the Commons, saying "the Russian government’s lies have been exposed by one of President Putin’s own henchman."

President Biden added that the US and NATO played no role in the Wagner group's short uprising and declined to speculate on what it could mean for the war in Ukraine.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu appeared to make his first public appearance since the rebellion on Monday, as Russian media speculated that he and other top military leaders have lost Putin’s confidence and could be replaced.

Footage on Russia media appears to show Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's first public appearance since the rebellion, however it is unclear when it was filmed

Shoigu was shown in video released by the Defence Ministry flying in a helicopter and then attending a meeting with officers at a military headquarters in Ukraine.

The video was widely shown on Russian media, including state-controlled television, although it was unclear when it was filmed.

General Staff chief General Valery Gerasimov, who was a main target of Prigozhin’s alongside Shoigu, has not been seen since the uprising.

Liz Truss urges the fast-track of Ukraine's NATO application and says Russia has been weakened by the revolt

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government has been "analysing and monitoring" the situation in Ukraine and the tensions between the Russian military leadership and the Wagner group "for some time".

Speaking on Monday, Mr Sunak said: "It's too early to predict with certainty what the consequences of this (weekend) might be, but of course we are always prepared as we would be."

A pro-Kremlin activist with a flag showing Putin and the words 'For the Motherland, for the sovereignty, for the Putin', near the Kremlin. Credit: AP

The 24-hour mercenary rebellion did not noticeably affect the Russian army's position along the 1,000 kilometre (600-mile) frontline in eastern Ukraine, but it could give the Ukrainians the boost it needs to intensify its counteroffensive, which military leaders have admitted is going slower than expected.

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