“I didn’t have the slightest doubt,” President Putin said, of Russian support during Wagner’s temporary mercenary mutiny, which on Saturday presented him with his biggest challenge since he came to power 23 years ago. years.

“I didn’t have the slightest doubt about the reaction (of the people) in Dagestan and the whole country,” the Kremlin strongman told Sergei Melikov, the leader of that republic in the southern part of the Russian Federation, according to a quote carried by Russian TV.

It was preceded by Melikov’s assurance that “there is not a single one in Dagestan who did not support the decisions taken by the leadership of the Russian Federation on June 24,” when the Wagner mutiny took place.

The mutiny of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has shaken the image of the Russian war machine, amid the invasion of Ukraine, where Kiev forces have launched a counteroffensive to liberate occupied territory.

For several hours, Wagner mercenaries had seized a military command post in Rostov (southwest) and other military installations, while they moved threateningly towards Moscow, finally stopping about 200 kilometers from the Russian capital.

Prigozhin later assured that his mutiny was not aimed at overthrowing the Russian leadership, but at saving Wagner – which was in danger of being absorbed into the Russian army on 1 July.

An AFP journalist recounted that residents of Rostov cheered Wagner’s mercenaries when they retreated on Saturday afternoon – on Prigozhin’s orders – to prevent bloodshed.