Updated Jun 24, 2023 - World

G7 foreign ministers hold call to discuss unfolding uprising in Russia

Armored vehicles and fighters of Wagner are seen on the streets of Rostov-on-Don after the mercenary group claimed to have taken control of the headquarters of Russia's southern military district in the city. Photo: Arkady Budnitsky/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Armored vehicles and fighters of Wagner are seen on the streets of Rostov-on-Don after the mercenary group claimed to have taken control of the headquarters of Russia's southern military district in the city. Photo: Arkady Budnitsky/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Tony Blinken held a secure conference call Saturday morning with several Western foreign ministers to consult about the escalating situation in Russia, a source with direct knowledge of the issue told Axios.

The latest: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday vowed to quash an uprising led by Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who claimed to have seized the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. By late Saturday local time, Prigozhin said he had ordered his fighters to halt their advance toward Moscow to avoid Russian bloodshed.

  • The uprising was the biggest threat to Putin's rule since he came to power more than two decades ago. It could have dramatic consequences for the war in Ukraine and for the strategy of the U.S. and its Western allies.

Behind the scenes: The foreign ministers of France, Germany, the U.K., Italy, Canada and the European Union were on the call with Blinken, according to the source.

  • The EU high representative for foreign affairs Josep Borrell confirmed the call in a tweet.
  • "Had a call with G7 Foreign Ministers to exchange views on the situation in Russia. Ahead of Monday’s EU Foreign Affairs Council, I am coordinating inside the European Union and have activated the crisis response centre," Borrell said. "Our support to Ukraine continues unabated."

What they're saying: State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that during the call "Blinken reiterated that support by the United States for Ukraine will not change. The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation continues to develop."

  • White House National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge told Axios that they "are monitoring the situation in Russia and will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments.”

President Biden has been briefed by his national security team and will continue to receive updates throughout the day, the White House said.

  • Biden held a separate call with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the situation in Russia. "They also affirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine," a White House readout of the call said.
  • Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs, canceled his scheduled trip to Israel, to stay in Washington to follow the events in Russia, three Israeli defense officials said and the Pentagon confirmed.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

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