June 27, 2023 - Russia-Ukraine news

By Kathleen Magramo, Sana Noor Haq, Ed Upright, Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:03 a.m. ET, June 28, 2023
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8:44 p.m. ET, June 26, 2023

Allies told Ukraine not to strike inside Russia during Wagner rebellion

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood and Kevin Liptak

Before Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin stood down on Saturday, there was outreach to Ukrainian officials from allies on a number of different levels, cautioning them to resist taking advantage of the chaos to strike inside Russia, according to a Western official.

The concern was that Ukraine and the West would be seen as helping Prigozhin and threatening Russian sovereignty.

"The message was don't rock the boat here," the official said, adding that the message was transmitted at the foreign minister level, deputies and through ambassadors.

"It's an internal Russian matter," the official said the Ukrainian officials were told, echoing what US and other Western officials have said publicly.

"Ukrainians were being cautioned by allies not to provoke the situation. Make hay of opportunities on Ukrainian territory but don't get drawn into internal matters or strike at offensive military assets inside of Russia," the official said.

In the war with Russia, Ukraine is suspected of carrying out a growing number of covert cross-border attacks and sabotage on Russian military facilities and even a drone strike on the Kremlin. Ukrainian forces have shelled the Russian Belgorod region, near the border between the countries.

"You just don't want to feed into the narrative that this was initiative by us," the official said. "It's what the Russians always wanted, proving that there are threats to Russian sovereignty."
3:27 p.m. ET, June 27, 2023

US kept intelligence on Wagner mutiny plans secret from most allies

From CNN's Natasha Bertrand, Alex Marquardt, Kylie Atwood and Kevin Liptak in Washington

US intelligence officials were able to gather an extremely detailed and accurate picture of Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s plans leading up to his short-lived rebellion, including where and how Wagner was planning to advance, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

But the intelligence was so closely held that it was shared only with select allies, including senior British officials, and not at the broader NATO level, these sources said.

It was not clear exactly when Prigozhin would act, the sources said. But he appears to have decided to move forward with his plan following a June 10 declaration by Russia’s Ministry of Defense that all private military companies, including Wagner, would be forced to sign contracts with Russia’s military beginning in July and essentially be absorbed by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The intelligence was so secret that within the US, it was briefed only to the most senior administration officials as well as the Gang of Eight members of Congress, who have access to the most sensitive intelligence matters.

The secrecy surrounding the intelligence was why some senior European officials and even senior officials across the US government were caught off guard by Prigozhin’s attack on Friday, and the speed with which Wagner forces marched into Rostov-on-Don and up toward Moscow into Saturday morning, the sources said.

“It was an extremely tight hold,” said one person familiar with the intelligence.

Read more here.

3:26 p.m. ET, June 27, 2023

Putin says Wagner fighters now have 3 choices

From CNN's Katharina Krebs and Anna Chernova 

In this picture Vladimir Putin is seen on a smartphone and a laptop screen while addressing the nation in Moscow, on June 26.
In this picture Vladimir Putin is seen on a smartphone and a laptop screen while addressing the nation in Moscow, on June 26. Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday thanked the Wagner Group fighters who made the "right decision" and halted their advance — then offered them three options for what to do next.

"I thank those soldiers and commanders of the Wagner Group who made the only right decision — they did not go for fratricidal bloodshed, they stopped at the last line," Putin said in an address to the nation.

He also said those fighters would have the "opportunity to continue serving Russia by entering into a contract with the Ministry of Defense or other law enforcement agencies, or to return to your family and friends."

He also gave a third choice.

"Whoever wants to can go to Belarus," he said.

Putin did not mention Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin by name during the five-minute speech. 

Prigozhin broke his silence earlier Monday in an audio message — his first since allegedly agreeing to leave Russia for Belarus in a deal to end the insurrectionBelarusian officials said they cannot confirm if Prigozhin arrived in the country.

3:26 p.m. ET, June 27, 2023

US and its allies had nothing to do with Wagner Group's uprising, Biden says

From CNN's Kevin Liptak

Joe Biden speaks during an event in Washington on June 26.
Joe Biden speaks during an event in Washington on June 26. Evan Vucci/AP

President Joe Biden on Monday sought to distance the United States from the weekend rebellion in Russia, insisting in his first public remarks since the episode that the West had nothing to do with the mutiny.

Speaking from the White House, Biden suggested it was too early to say how the situation would unfold going forward. And he said he may speak again with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to coordinate their response after conferring in a phone call Sunday.

“It’s still too early to reach a definitive conclusion about where this is going,” he said in the East Room. “The ultimate outcome of all this remains to be seen, but no matter what comes next I will keep making sure that our allies and our partners are closely aligned in how we are reading and responding to the situation.”

Biden’s statement reflected a carefully calibrated American response to the brief uprising by the Wagner Group that amounted to the biggest threat in years to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over the weekend, Biden remained silent on the events unfolding in Russia. He consulted with European allies by telephone on Saturday before traveling to Camp David with his national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

In his remarks Monday, Biden laid out the thinking behind his approach, which some Republicans have criticized as overly cautious.

“We had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO. We made clear that we were not involved. We had nothing to do with it. This was part of a struggle within the Russian system,” Biden said.

Read more here.