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Putin Doubles Down on Ukraine War

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to carry on with the war in Ukraine, speaking in a pre-recorded interview that was broadcast on state television on Sunday.

The interview was taped on June 21 but broadcast after the Kremlin resolved the first attempted coup against Moscow in three decades.

“I’m focused primarily on the special military operation,” Putin said in the interview with Rossiya-1 TV, using his regime’s term for the invasion of Ukraine. “My day begins and ends with this.”

“Lately, I stay up quite late” monitoring the situation, he added. “Of course, I always have to be communicating.”

Putin’s message of being in control was broadcast after the Wagner Group, the Russian mercenary force on which Moscow has depended for the war against Ukraine, attempted a lightning march on Moscow from the Russian-Ukrainian border, taking the Russian elite establishment and the world at large by surprise.

On Saturday, Putin had to rely on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to personally intervene and broker a deal with Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin to avoid bloodshed. Prigozhin agreed to move to Belarus, and Wagner troops appeared to be standing down on Sunday.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described the Wagner coup attempt as “humiliating” for Putin.

“You almost nullified Putin,” Podolyak said in a tweet. “Prigozhin humiliated Putin [and] the state and showed that there is no longer a monopoly on violence.”