Richard Moore, head of Britain’s Mi6 secret service, has provided the first confirmation from Western intelligence that Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenaries, did in fact strike a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the June 24 uprising. A few days later, Putin welcomed him to the Kremlin CNN.
The head of Mi6, known as C, expressed dismay at the changes in attitude in the Kremlin that weekend.
“If you look at Putin’s behavior that day, Prigog was a traitor at breakfast, he was forgiven at dinner, and then, a few days later, he was invited to tea. So there are some things that are difficult for even the head of MI6 to explain,” Moore said in a speech in Prague.
Western intelligence services have refrained from commenting on Prigozhin’s failed rebellion for fear of giving Russia an opportunity to claim that the rebellion was planned and instigated by Western spies.
But Moore has now shown just how shocking the weakness Putin betrayed that weekend was.
“He did not retaliate against Prigozhin. Using the good offices of the Belarusian leader, he made a deal to save his own skin,” he said, referring to the intervention of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who sealed the deal.
“I can’t even see what’s going through Putin’s head. He must have realized something was so rotten in the state of Denmark – to quote Hamlet – that he had to do this deal,” the MI6 chief said.
Moore added that it was difficult to make “firm judgments” about the Wagner Group’s fate as a mercenary group, but added that “they do not appear to be working in Ukraine” and “appear to have elements of them in Belarus.”
The head of MI6 encouraged Russians disaffected by Russia’s war in Ukraine to work for British intelligence. He said that MI6 had already recruited many Russian citizens who were alarmed by Russia’s invasion of the neighboring country, and that the door would be open to the British spy service for Russians who wanted to end the war.
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