Return to Transcripts main page

Quest Means Business

Yevgeny Prigozhin: March On Moscow Was Protest, Not Coup; Putin's Future After Unprecedented Rebellion; Putin Speaks After Wagner Revolt In Russia; Biden: The U.S. Was Not Involved. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired June 26, 2023 - 15:00:00   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: We start the new week together, another week of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. There is an hour to trade left on

Wall Street, and if we look at the market, I think there, you're getting a very good example of the underlying push and pull tensions. There's a sort

of feeling of do no harm, but not sure what's next, and that is what we'll be talking about because what the markets are reflecting, of course, is

what's happening with the main events of the day.

President Vladimir Putin is due to speak tonight. We await his first public response to the failed insurrection by the Wagner Group.

The fears of future instability in Russia are driving up energy prices. We need to understand where things go next, and we will help you tonight.

And Greece's Prime Minister promises major reforms after a resounding election victory that gives him the majority he sought.

Were live in New York. A very good evening to you. It's Monday. It's June the 26th. I'm Richard Quest and yes, I mean business.

Good evening.

Within the last hour or so, the Kremlin has said Vladimir Putin will make a number of important statements this evening.

Now, it will be the first time we've heard from the Russian leader since the aborted mutiny by the Wagner Group. Its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin said

today his march to Moscow was a protest, it was not a coup against Putin.

In an audio recording of Prigozhin, he said he did to just prevent the destruction of his mercenary group, and that he stopped the march to avoid

Russian bloodshed.

Whatever the reasoning from both sides, the events of the last four days have pulled back the covers and exposed weaknesses in Putin's rule and the

fallacies behind his invasion of Ukraine.

Jill Dougherty is CNN's former Moscow bureau chief. She's now adjunct professor at Georgetown University. She's with me from Washington, DC.

The thing that has struck me most over the last few days is listening to people like you who are to use that phrase when I was growing up "gob

smacked" by just the events of the last few days, things happened that you would never dreamt would have happened, and we just don't know where this

goes next.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIAN AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Richard, we don't, and right now, we have another incredible chapter opening up probably within

minutes. President Putin answering we think, what's been going on.

I mean, actually Russians are asking precisely that, what has been happening? Because it is so really out of the ordinary.

And then you have just within the past few hours, you have Yevgeny Prigozhin, the main character here who mounted that insurrection, coming

out with a crazy 11-minute tirade really on Telegram explaining why he wasn't trying to carry out a coup, and continuing, Richard, continuing his

attack on the regular military.

QUEST: We don't know really where he is and we don't know the whole business with Belarus, although I see one of the leaders, one of the

opposition leaders in Belarus who says that Lukashenko was a messenger. He was not a mediator in that sense.

So how deep -- sort of, it is a very deep crisis, but at the same time, I ask how deep is the crisis, in the sense of, could this sort of just


DOUGHERTY: I don't think it's going to dissipate per se, but I think, you know, it could kind of metastasize and then it could go back.

Like right now, we don't know what Putin exactly is going to say. I would presume, obviously, he wants to show some type of strength, that he's got

things under control, because you know, right now, every word that comes out of his mouth is really, to a great extent, dealing with a domestic


He has to convince the country and especially the elites and the security forces, that he knows what he is doing, because already, he is under real

criticism for how he's been malhandling and mishandling the war in Ukraine and now, he almost had an insurrection that came to Moscow.


So he looks bad. He has to show that he is strong, but it is very difficult. I think, Richard, one thing I'd watch is, will he give an

indication of what he is going to do with the Defense Minister Shoigu, because after all, Prigozhin wanted Shoigu and the other generals out.

He said they were botching the war, and they need to go. Would Putin do that? Will Putin say no, forget it, you know, they're still in place. The

war is going just fine.

QUEST: And is it your feeling he doubles down on the war?

DOUGHERTY: A lot of -- well, on the war, yes. I mean, the war continues, at least as far as we can see. President Putin is saying full speed ahead, but

you know, sometimes, he will take an unexpected turn and that is why I think this is an important thing to watch coming up.

Exactly how will he present this to his own people? I mean, some of his people actually like what Prigozhin is saying, especially his comments,

anti-elite comments, they go over very well.

QUEST: Jill Dougherty in Washington.

When and of course -- don't go too far away, right, because when Putin speaks, we will obviously be back with you to help us understand what he is

saying and the nuance of it.

I'm grateful for you.

The revolt in Russia hasn't set off major economic shockwaves yet, unlike the beginning of the invasion in Ukraine, but it is early days.

So we're watching oil prices, and they are holding steady. Brent and West Texas are just up marginally, virtually unchanged as you can see on the


Wheat and natural gas prices spiked early. They have both retreated in their gains.

Anna Stewart is in London.

I'm perplexed, Anna, I would have thought there would have been far more dislocation with this?

ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: You and me both, actually. But there wasn't any real disruption, of course, to any kind of production of oil, of gas, of

wheat. There was no disruption to supply chains to exports. But you're right, even a whiff of instability within Russia and a whiff of perhaps any

kind of disruption, I would have expected to see more of a price reaction. I think investors are holding their nerve and treading some water here.

But there was minor reaction, but it was a reminder to us all that despite sanctions, Russia still plays a huge outsized role in global commodities.

QUEST: Right. I am expecting President Putin to speak in the next two to three minutes. So, Anna, you'll forgive me if I have to rudely interrupt

you in one of your answers.

The issue of the currency, the ruble. Now again, it collapsed at the beginning of the war. But given that, I mean, it's recovered most of its

losses and it has marginally slipped.

STEWART: It's a really tricky benchmark, though, to rely on -- naturally, you would look at a nation's currency at a time of political instability

and try and figure out what the investor appetite is, how much is the instability feeding through to the real economy.

But actually, while we did see some reactions to the ruble, at this stage, you've got to remember there isn't really investor appetite, at least

internationally, because this is a highly illiquid currency right now, it's not really traded internationally.

There was a huge exodus of Western firms who used it over a year ago at this stage, but what I was interested to read about was just how many

Russians apparently were looking to exchange their rubles for US dollars over the weekend.

QUEST: So Anna, I will thank you, and we'll go to Helima Croft, who is the global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

I'll apologize to you again, like to Anna, if I have to -- I mean, you'll probably get three words out and Putin will start speaking, but you'll be

wanting to hear him as well.

Why hasn't the markets reacted more?

HELIMA CROFT, GLOBAL HEAD OF COMMODITY STRATEGY, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS: Because there has been no physical disruption. I mean, remember, Richard,

at the start of the war, there was a sense that you could lose millions of barrels of Russian oil off the market because of sanctions.

People talked about three million barrels potentially coming off the market. And yet, we've seen a very minimal disruption, at least when it

comes to oil.

So we have a market right now that wants to see physical disruption before it actually gets priced in. That does not mean we're out of the woods. I

mean, there's a clear risk of instability in Russia causing problems with exports, but the market right now isn't a show me market, not a tell me


QUEST: Okay. But so far, so good, and arguably, the way Europe has weaned itself off creates -- I mean, you know, Germany, look at what Germany has

done over the course of the --

CROFT: Right, US LNG exports. Yes.

QUEST: So it's a huge difference. But one might have expected that countries like India or China, which are picking up the slack of those

exports, they'll be hit if there's a problem.


CROFT: A hundred percent. We will feel this on global markets if Russia is unable to export. And it's my understanding the White House was running

contingency plans on Saturday about a potential closure of ports because of Martial Law, that could have been potentially millions of barrels of

exports off the market.

And so, we are in no way out of the woods. But again, the market isn't reacting because nothing is off yet.

QUEST: Okay. But now let's go to wheat.


QUEST: Or we can go to the rare minerals, or any of the other things that Russia produces, that we often don't talk about, but are fundamental to the

digital and tech industries.

CROFT: A hundred percent. I mean, Russia is not a gas station, it is a global commodity superstore -- oil, natural gas critical minerals,

agriculture --

QUEST: I need to interrupt you. I forgive you -- sorry, please forgive me, here's President Putin.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This civil solidarity showed us that any blackmail and attempts to start mutiny are

going to have no results.

There have been consolidation of the society, the strong position and support was taken by religious confessions, political parties.

In fact, the whole Russian society, everyone was united by the mind think, responsibility for the fate of our motherland.

From the very beginning, all the necessary actions on neutralization of the threat have been taken. The armed mutiny would have been destroyed in any


The organizers, despite the loss of mind should have realized this. Despite the unprecedented pressure from outside when our comrades are dying in the

front, the organizers of the mutiny by betraying the country were pushing - -

The enemies of Russia, and the neo-Nazis and different types of treacherous, these soldiers of Russia with the military service personnel,

so in the final analysis, Russia would lose and our society has broken up because of this.

They've lost their arms for their failures on the front for their counter crimes. But we have to count on the fact that all our military service

personnel, workers, service personnel, all those security forces have shown their loyalty, their faith, their courage for the heroes, for the pilots of

this tragedy.

In addition, we know that the overwhelming majority of the fighters or patriots of Russia, with their people -- they are people for the state,

they've proven that courage freeing Donbas and trying to use against their brothers who fought together for the country.

Therefore, know from the very beginning, we've undertaken steps to avoid a big bloodshed, including giving the possibility to think for those who

understand that their actions have decisively been rejected by society.

The destructive consequences for Russia, for the state of such adventurism which tragedies could lead to.

I thank -- great thanks to those soldiers who have taken the only right decision to stop the flowing of blood, the bloodshed.

Today, you have the possibility to have a contract with the Ministry of Defense, and all others to come back to those who are their nearest and



And this address will be used, I repeat, the choice for each of you, I'm convinced will be a choice of the military in Russia who recognize their


I'm grateful to the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko for his efforts and his contribution for this peaceful resolution, but I repeat

that this patriotism of the Russian society made a decisive step and made it possible for us together to overcome the most difficult situation.

Thank you. I, thank you.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We've been listening to Russian President Vladimir Putin talk about what we saw unfold this week and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the

head of the Wagner Mercenary Group, apparently attempting a coup, headed toward Moscow now denying it, saying that this was not a coup, but rather a


Vladimir Putin responding saying that this was a mutiny, saying that these soldiers betrayed Russia, describing them as neo-Nazis, traitors of the

homeland who tried to break up our society.

He says that the Kremlin has taken steps to try to avoid bloodshed. Yet, he offered these Wagner troops an opportunity to come back and sign contracts

with the Ministry of Defense -- quite a statement from Putin.



SCIUTTO: That's what these -- that's how Prigozhin perceived these offers to sign regular contracts with the Russian regular army was that they would

be taken away as a power center for him.

And listen, having reported over these last few days on this, first the rebellion and now this peace deal, as it were, this is a Russian president

who is not making nice with Prigozhin. I mean, he's accusing him of betraying his country.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: No, but he is also trying to make him out to be this leader who had no followers, which is interesting, because we've seen

the pictures and there were people who were supporting Prigozhin.

Ultimately, did he have enough support? Maybe not. That may be why he blinked. But you also saw Vladimir Putin blinking as well and that is

certainly to be clear.

I want to get now to CNN's Matthew Chance who is in Moscow.

Matthew, what is your takeaway from this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, we're a little nonplussed by it here, because we thought the statements

were going to be a lot more dramatic.

There was sort of -- the Kremlin was sort of really speaking up beforehand saying that this statement would determine the fate of the Russian -- state

of Russia, and it doesn't seem to have done that.

It just seems to have reiterated a lot of the stuff I think we've already been talking about quite a lot since this armed rebellion was put down.

I think what's most interesting for me, sitting here in Moscow watching this is that it's been so long since we've seen Vladimir Putin in public,

he hasn't come out and actually said anything since this rebellion was put down or whether it was negotiated away or whatever happened.

And so, you know, finally, we've seen the Russian president sort of stand up in front of the nation, condemn this armed uprising, reiterate the deal

that had been offered to the Wagner fighters who didn't take part, which is that there'll be offered contracts or are being offered contracts with the

Russian military.

And also condemned the loss of life that did occur, and of course, we've not spoken enough, I don't think about the fact that several Russian

aircraft was shot out of the sky by Wagner forces, with a number of pilots being killed and Vladimir Putin referred to that loss of life and of

course, condemned it.

SCIUTTO: Matthew, what does this mean for Prigozhin? As you know, Prigozhin in his statement earlier today, even granted that his forces had shot down

Russian aircraft, and now you have the Russian president following this agreement, accusing him of a mutiny and betraying his country. Does this

call into question Prigozhin's safety going forward?

Putin is not someone who has shown any evidence of being willing to tolerate even mild dissent, let alone an armed insurrection.

CHANCE: I mean, he has never faced this sort of armed insurrection before, certainly not in the last 23 years since he has been in power.

But look, you know, it doesn't bode well for Yevgeny Prigozhin. I think all those sort of jokes about avoiding cups of tea and open windows apply here.

But you know, as far as we're aware, Prigozhin, that rebellious mercenary leader has taken the deal, which is to relocate to Belarus, a country which

we have to say is controlled by a very close Putin ally, Alexander Lukashenko, where the expectation is or the understanding is, is that he

will continue the operations of Wagner.


Although Belarusian officials who I've spoken to repeatedly over the course of the past day or so are refusing to comment to me about whether Prigozhin

has arrived and what his status would be.

But I've also spoken to the Belarusian opposition to answer your question just there, and they said it would be suicide for Prigozhin to relocate to

Belarus because he would not have any safety, any guarantees from the revenge of Vladimir Putin. That was said to me earlier by the Belarusian

opposition in exile.

SANCHEZ: We also have with a CNN's Nick Paton Walsh who is reporting live in Kyiv.

Clearly, a discrepancy here between what we heard from Prigozhin earlier talking about this not being a coup attempt, this being an opportunity to

speak of the corruption among the Russian Ministry of Defense, Vladimir Putin is not buying that.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, and he doesn't even mention Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man whose alliance, allegiance,

confidence he has been relying on for years, even mentioning him by name.

And it is clear in the tone of the speech that the traitors he is referring to, the people behind the events that required this solidarity, this

unified position by the Russian people that he praises so openly, is Prigozhin, and if I heard that and I was wherever Yevgeny Prigozhin is, you

would have definite cause for concern.

It does not sound like the charges against him necessarily have been dropped, although quite clearly, within that speech, there is a lengthy

attempt to be sure that those Wagner fighters out there, consider themselves free to go to Belarus, free to join the Russian Ministry of

Defense and he is quite clear that he considers them to be patriots who fought for Russia.

So a short speech, certainly one also two in which we don't get any suggestion of concessions from Putin. He is not standing there and saying

there will be changes in Russia's top brass, which was essentially the goal of Yevgeny Prigozhin.

He thanks Alexander Lukashenko, a highly unlikely man, frankly, to have saved Putin as it seems to have occurred on Saturday, a man who Putin often

seems to treat with distance and a degree of contempt as a subordinate, but seems to have stepped in here and engineered this deal.

We don't really know where Prigozhin is in all of this, and it does appear at this point that Putin would like to see Wagner dismantled, going to the

tone of that speech, you don't read in those lines of suggestion that Wagner is a force necessarily that he wants to see maintained.

But a strident bit there, I think, to say, this episode is finished. You do still have to wonder why it's taken him the best part of well over two-and-

a-half days to come in front of the Russian people and speak like this.

KEILAR: Nick, what do you make of it not being more dramatic as the Kremlin had sort of prepared people and reporters in Moscow for?

WALSH: I think it is odd, because you don't often hear Vladimir Putin talk not at length. I remember the 57 minute speech we had ahead of the invasion

of Ukraine last year in February, which, you know, showed a man with a thesis he wanted to present to the world.

This is short. It essentially thanked the Russian people for a solidarity, which -- a unified response to these events of the weekend, which we didn't

really see that much of. I mean, there were people in Rostov, frankly, who seemed to be cheering the Wagner mercenaries on in what they did.

We don't know how they were met along the road up towards Moscow, but this is certainly not necessarily events over the weekend, which has found

people coming out the streets to purposely oppose them, quite the opposite in some of the scenes we saw in Rostov.

So it's short. It's a bid to show he is back in control. Again, certainly, it does not mention Yevgeny Prigozhin by name at all, almost like he's a

non-person now in Putin's Russia, and that may well be exactly what occurs and apart from his channel on Telegram where we hear audio messages, he

ceases to have a role in the Russian elites.

But the impact of what he did over the weekend and how weak it made Vladimir Putin look, you can almost see in his face, he looks gaunt,

Vladimir Putin, he looks angry, and I think it's been a long time, frankly, for him to come forward, make the speech and yes, it was not a series of

very significant statements like it had been trailed to be.

It was a repetition of the offer of a degree of amnesty to Wagner soldiers, reminded that they were patriots who fought hard in the Ukrainian war and I

should remind people that Wagner are brutal fighters who are behind some of the more savage attacks we've seen on the Ukrainian frontlines.

But yeah, a bid to show he is back in control again, but a short one, and one that didn't really give us anything new.

SCIUTTO: He did though, say that these fighters betrayed their country and attempted a mutiny and that's no small thing given where we were just 72

hours ago without any expectation of seeing an open armed rebellion inside Russian territory.

CNN diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson also with us.


Nic, given those words, given that Prigozhin's location is still not certain. The opposition leader told us on his podcast about an hour ago

that there is no information she has seen that he is in Belarus.

One thing is clear that this is not over, at least, Wagner still exists, its fighters still exist and Prigozhin seems to be well, at least alive. We

don't know where he is. Where does this go from here now in terms of this dispute? Has Putin effectively shown he's in control?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: There is a way in which Putin hasn't shown he is in control, which I find utterly bizarre here,

where he, in essence, had Prigozhin cornered in Rostov-on-Don, albeit cornered with a lot of civilians that seem to support him and in a very

important military base that is vital to fighting the war in Ukraine, however, cornered in a known location.

Putin's narrative has not changed at all. The Russian government position has not changed at all. Okay, there was nothing explosive in what Putin

said. So in that case, and given that Prigozhin has been able to speak out again today publicly, again, criticizing Putin's Defense minister, why did

Putin not round him up on Saturday evening? He had the opportunity.

He has let him fly into the wind. We all assessed that if he goes to Belarus, he won't be safe there, because Putin can easily reach into that

country. But why let this carry on?

He calls him a traitor. Again, he is doubling down on the use of the word "traitor." He used it Saturday, he is using it today. But if the guy is

really a traitor, and you're the super tough, powerful president who doesn't tolerate disloyalty like this, why do you let this guy go away?

That points to a level of weakness here.

And I think, you know, Putin is trying to retake and reshape the narrative for the Russian people, but at the same time is exposing, a grand, an

ability to actually take Prigozhin out of the equation and stop him being a voluble critic.

SCIUTTO: It's a great point. Prigozhin still has -- he still has a bullhorn here. He was able to make his statement, give his view of the world just

hours before Putin spoke.

SANCHEZ: It was notable that during his speech, Putin thanked Russian society for quashing what was an open rebellion. But if you watch the

videos of Yevgeny Prigozhin in the street, it seems like a lot of people, at least where he was in Russia, were taking selfies with him. They were

shaking his hand. He seemed like a folk hero.

KEILAR: Yes, many people supporting him, but you heard Putin there leaning into talking about the patriots, right, who stopped this from happening,

trying to put a shine on a situation that is tricky for him.

And in a way, he had no choice. He had to come out and punctuate this moment. And as we just heard, what a short statement it was, and how

unusual that was for him to not obviously not a moment that he was relishing, and prolonging, certainly something that we saw there.

Ian Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group back with us. What did you think of what you heard from Vladimir Putin?

IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT, EURASIA GROUP: He has a short statement. He had to give one, almost nothing new, but that in itself is noteworthy.

The fact that Putin said that the Wagner Group are patriots thrown at their brothers first is the fact that he clearly wants to reintegrate Wagner into

the Russian military capability. They're a danger for him right now, he wants them under contract. He wants them part of Russian defense forces.

He opened his speech by talking about the fight against Ukraine and how critical it was to be able to continue that. So, I mean, maybe part of the

reason why he's continuing to allow Prigozhin to be there is because he wants some time to ensure that Wagner is stripped away, is effectively


But there is no question, he still considers Prigozhin to be a traitor. Prigozhin is the one that is throwing these patriots against their

brothers. And as of right now, he didn't mention his name. He's taken those steps against him. And that is -- the longer that goes on, the more

challenged existentially that Putin actually looks as an uncontested dictator in his country.

SANCHEZ: I want to go back to CNN senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance in Moscow because, Matthew, it stood out to me that Vladimir

Putin was trying to take credit as the person who avoided blood being shared on the streets of Russia.

CHANCE: Yes. I mean, look, I mean, his authority has been hugely undermined by this whole episode, and of course, the Kremlin are painfully aware of

that. They will have watched the scenes in Rostov-on-Don in the south of Russia with crowds cheering Wagner fighters and Yevgeny Prigozhin.


And that would have sent chills through the Kremlin. That's not what they want to see on the streets of their own city. And so, in an attempt to sort

of regain some credibility, Putin, in this very short speech, you know, gave some time to making it clear that it was him that gave the order to

make sure there was no further bloodshed.

And so, you know, he knows that Russian people why they may have supported the critique of the Yevgeny Prigozhin supported his, you know, kind of

condemnation of the way the war has been conducted by the military top brass. He also clearly understood that Russians are not supportive of the

idea of more Russians being killed. And so, I think that was probably an attempt by Vladimir Putin to, you know, sort of like, you know, show

himself to have been the hero of the moment, rather than the President who looks incredibly weak as a result of this.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Here are the moment and yet the president who oversaw a country in which a private army was able to take a city in the southern

part of the country that controls operations inside Ukraine in March, a good two-thirds of the way up a highway towards the Russian capital.

Remarkable events there. We've just heard from the Russian president, we're going to have much more on those comments this breaking stories right after

short break. Please do stay with CNN NEWS CENTRAL.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Show a while ago, President Putin speaking said the armed rebellion called off on Saturday would have been

suppressed anyway in his words. His national address, the first since the uprising. He also said those who organized the mutiny will be brought to

justice but he did not mention the Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin. President Britain thanked the Wagner fighters who halted their advance and offered

those fighters a chance to join the Russian military or go to Belarus.

Nick Paton Walsh is with me. The tricky line that he walked then between recognizing the seriousness of the situation, but so nothing to see how it

would have all been over. We'd have managed to deal with it anyway. Did he succeed?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I think just the brevity of the speech, I think it's the lack of new policies or

new ideas in it. I think gets the palpable anger in his face.


Not even mentioning his former henchmen. It's kind of one of his manager's dirty work for years. Yevgeny Prigozhin by name at all. I think that shows

more weakness, to be honest. And the fact that we've waited 2-1/2 days to hear from Vladimir Putin. Does not since Saturday morning and forgive me if

my math wrong here and lots on Saturday morning that we've heard from him at all.

And the whole deal has indeed been struck. So yes, a speech in which he conjured a Russian people who he said to kind of shown solidarity and unity

to prevent this revolt. Remember, the street scenes we saw in Rostov taken by the Wagner group show people openly in support of them. In fact, some

even showed them taunting police officers who returned after Wagner left. Some will do -- seen taking selfies with Yevgeny Prigozhin as he left the


So, the vision we've had of the Russian people during this armed rebellion has been at times supportive of it. We don't know if that is reflected on

the highway up towards Moscow throughout Saturday. So, a short speech. That's odd, because Vladimir Putin does like to go on sometimes and he

certainly kept it tight today, but also within there as well. A bid to show those who caused this, who devised it as traitors, but those who

potentially were swept up in it, Wagner fighters still wanted to call them patriots and give them the option to go to Belarus or sign up with the MOD.

No new policy there. But a man clearly shaken, Richard.

QUEST: OK. Jill Dougherty is with me. Jill, when you saw of Putin then, what was your first thought?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as I listened to him, I thought this guy has two problems. One is the Wagner fighters. And if you

believe there are 25,000 of them, and according to their leader, very few of them have decided to go over to the regular military. So, Putin's number

one objective was to say, hey, guys, don't go with Prigozhin. Don't use the word Prigozhin. Don't go with Prigozhin. Stick with the military.

And by the way, your patriots, and come on back, come on back to the military. Second, I think his challenge was to talk to the Russian people

and say, look, we avoided bloodshed. You're -- the actions by these uprising, people were rejected by society, we're all united. And I think

that's really important for Putin, because a lot of Russians are very confused by this. They didn't know what to think.

And so, Putin is trying to help them think and understand what this means by saying, hey, we're all united. These guys are traders, mutinous, et

cetera. And I think those were the two things or maybe a short speech, but I think Putin believed that that's what he had to do.

QUEST: But who -- for either of you, actually start with you, Jill, start with you. Who was he talking to tonight? Was he talking to ordinary

Russians? Was he talking to his own elites to prove he's still in power? Who was his principal audience?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I'd say all three, that I'd say number one would be the military. Number two, probably Russian citizens. And number three, although

ultimately, this is the most important. Convinced the power of people, you know, that sue the key, that he's still in charge, everything's fine, and

we're going to go for it. But he has a lot on his -- on his plate right now with those fighters because if they decide to follow Prigozhin and just go

up by themselves, he has -- he is for them.

QUEST: OK. Nick Paton Walsh. Hopefully, you're still with me. And I just want to factor in the -- since you're in Kyiv, the way in which this -- the

Ukrainians can take all are taking advantage of this because even if Prigozhin is out of the way, the amount of dislocation that's taken place.

So what do they do next in Ukraine?

WALSH: I think we've seen over the weekend a bit to continue pressuring and advancing in the areas where they've seen progress in the past. There's

been no monumental breakthrough. There may be waiting to see Russian troop dislocations how that plays out where weaknesses indeed do emerge. But I

think partly, they're enjoying watching Putin's tight inner circle begin to crumble.

I should tell you what a key presidential adviser here in Kyiv Mykhailo Podolyak has said that it's clear Russia is now looking for a new

president. And even a Russian military blogger, a former separatist involved in the initial stages in 2014 of taking parts of eastern Ukraine

Igor Strelkov, has said he's not seen anything more pitiful in the performance of a man remotely resembling the president.

I mean, very harsh words, in mind imaginable before the war in Russia and it's quite clear that Vladimir Putin speech just then short and lacking in

new ideas as it was, does not silenced his critics.


And we still have Yevgeny Prigozhin out there with an open telegram channel launching audio messages criticizing the war whenever he feels like it. So

possibly there are many in Kyiv who are just happy to let this rollout. Don't interrupt your enemy while they're making a mistake.

QUEST: A very wise military tactic. Nick Paton Walsh, Jill Dougherty, plenty more to talk about. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues.


QUEST: And so, to our top story tonight, of course, the crisis in Russia. President Biden gave his first remarks a short while ago about the revolt

that took place in Russia. The President made it clear that Washington had no part in the revolt and he said it would be up to Russia to determine

what happened next.

We appear to have a problem (INAUDIBLE) runs we do get to that. We'll bring it to just a moment. The instability of course, that's taken place is

pretty much everywhere. And the depth and width of it is really unknown. It hasn't -- no, it hasn't sufficiently altered or shaken Wallstreet yet. We

recurred that earlier in the program. If you look at the way the markets have been performing.

Well, Andrey Illarionov is the President Putin's former chief economic adviser and he's with me now from Washington. And you heard -- sir, you

heard the -- President Putin speak a short moment ago. What do you make of what you heard? Well, as you can see -- can you hear me, sir?

ANDREY ILLARIONOV, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER TO PRESIDENT PUTIN: I don't know whether -- I don't know whether you can see me but I do see you

and hopefully you can hear me in any way.


Mr. Putin has demonstrated that it was not his best time for all last three days. He has demonstrated his personal weakness. He has demonstrated

weakness of his regime. He called for help and support to leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkey. And this is probably the first

time in the history of Russia that any leader of the country from Moscow white times through the Russian empire times, through the USSR.

So, the current Russian regime would call for support for leaders of those countries. And as we all know, Mr. Erdogan has suggested he's made to

(INAUDIBLE) services of Mr. Putin for solving internal political crisis within country.


QUEST: OK. Let me just -- let me just jump in, if I may. The test now becomes in your view, does he crack down -- is his what is his strength

sufficiently weakened that he is able, if you like to regain all the reins of power with some form, almost like starting this crackdown?

ILLARIONOV: I think it's too early to make the final conclusion about that. But since to me this is a -- definitely public humiliation. But the essence

of the regime is seems to me still intact. The military forces, security forces, all they -- all do operate. Certainly, some people from the -- Mr.

Putin's personal entourage demonstrated their weakness even left Moscow, by the way, Mr. Putin himself left Moscow in anticipation of these -- much of

Mr. Prigozhin.

But at this moment, I will say it's too early to say that there is any serious crack in the regime. It has demonstrated weakness, but it is too

far from any fateful decisions and faithful consequences of these mutiny.

QUEST: Andrey, it's good to talk to you. I'm sorry, we lost your picture. Next time, I promise you, we'll hear you and we will see you at the same

time. I'm grateful for your time tonight. So, to China, of course, which has been supporting Russia in many ways and it's reaffirmed that support.

Its foreign ministry call this weekend's episode an internal affair for Russia. CNN's Anna Coren is in Hong Kong.

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A day after the abrupt end to the insurrection threatening of Vladimir Putin's grip on power. Russia's

greatest ally China broke its silence, issuing support for the Kremlin. After closely watching the gravest challenge to Putin's 23-year rule unfold

over the weekend. The Chinese foreign ministry issued a strong statement online late Sunday evening, which read, this is Russia's internal affair as

Russia's friendly neighbor and comprehensive strategic partner of coordination for the new era.

China supports Russia in maintaining national stability and achieving developments and prosperity. It followed a visit to Beijing by Russia's

Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko who met with China's Foreign Minister Qin Gang among other Chinese officials yesterday where the two

exchange views on Sino-Russian relations and international and regional issues of common concern.

A photo showed the pair smiling, walking side by side. Russia claims this was part of scheduled consultations. The Chinese however, did not announce

the meeting beforehand. Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have developed a close personal rapport in recent years over their shared ambition to

challenge the U.S.-led global order. In February of last year, the two leaders declared a friendship with no limits.

Shortly before Putin launched his war on Ukraine. China has refused to condemn the invasion, and has provided much needed diplomatic and economic

support for Russia. It's also portrayed itself as a peace broker between Russia and Ukraine. But some analysts believe China will be closely

monitoring the fallout of this aborted mutiny.

Wen-Ti Sung, a political scientist with the Australian National University says the Wagner insurrection contradicts the narrative of Putin as a strong

leader who enjoys full support of his people and is here for the long haul as China's global partner of choice. If Putin's rule is unstable than

supporting him is bad business.

On China's Twitter-like platform Weibo, the Wagner insurrection was a top trending topic over the weekend. Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


QUEST: Now, President Biden's emphasize that the United States and the West had nothing to do with the revolt. Kevin Liptak is at the White House with

more on the U.S. reaction in a moment.


QUEST: So, to our top story tonight, the Russian crisis, President Biden underlined a clear message from Washington that the U.S. had no part in the

revolt and it would be up to Russia alone to resolve the aftermath.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They agreed with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse -- let me emphasize. We gave Putin no

excuse to blame this on the West would have blamed 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 Russian system.


QUEST: Kevin is at the White House. I suppose the question is, will anybody believe them? I mean, it's one thing to say no, nothing. We have nothing to

do with it. But everybody wonders whether they were really stoking the flames in the back.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. And actually, I think it was interesting in his speech, this hour, President Putin, he did say that what

happened in Russia was something that the West would have wanted. He said that the West was rubbing their hands as they were watching it. But he

didn't explicitly say that it was a plot by the United States or by NATO, to take him out of power which in the end is something that the White House

had kind of expected him to say.

And that was really why they orchestrated this strategy of not really saying much over the weekend. And that was why President Biden really kind

of laid low as this was unfolding on the ground there to avoid giving him the pretext to make the claim that President Putin or President Biden was

orchestrating this to take them out of power. When President Biden got on a video call with other European leaders on Saturday, that was sort of his

driving message.

Don't let this get out of control, really kind of take the temperature down. Now whether anyone believes that going forward, I think remains to be

seen. We did hear from the Russian Foreign Minister earlier today, Sergey Lavrov, who said that he was starting an investigation to see whether this

was a plot by Western intelligence. So obviously, we'll see how that unfolds. And obviously, that's not something that the United States would

necessarily take it for face value.

But certainly, that strategy has been unfolding in a way it kind of works, because you haven't heard President Putin make that claim directly at least

today, Richard.

QUEST: Kevin (INAUDIBLE) will for you. Thank you, sir. Thank you. I do need to finish with the market's instability has -- hasn't rattled Wall Street



You can see the caution on the Dow. It has been a choppy trading session. And we are just about even-stevens. But that shows uncertainty rather than

worry. And the Nike is higher. It reports on Thursday after the bell and Chevron shares are also benefiting from the volatility in the oil market,

you'd get that quite often. The other stocks if you look at the 30, a few, Microsoft and for example Pharma, they're all towards the bottom.

A profitable moment comes your way after the break. QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.


QUEST: Tonight, profitable moment. So, we need to pause and take a second or two to just reflect on the events of the last few days in Russia. Now,

plenty of my colleagues will do the geopolitical and strategic bit. That's not really our job here on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS. I want to put it into some

sort of economic and wider issue in terms of business. The first thing to note is that these events in Russia happened over the weekend, when the

markets were by and large closed.

There might have been some forex at the edge. But substantially all the major indices that would have reacted were closed. And then you've got the

real issue of why commodities didn't react more. Well, the first is, there was no threat immediately to supply and therefore oil and gas. And anyway,

as we were talking, Germany and the E.U. have dramatically, dramatically reduced their reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Therefore, higher prices would arguably affect countries like India, South Africa and the new markets in China. So that's one scenario. Of course,

forex could be another scenario. And you've got the question of the ruble collapsing or going down, which it didn't. And you've got the question of

the dollar strengthening slightly because it's the safe haven currency. All of which pulls the strands together, that the market and if you look at the

Dow, it's just holding its nerve.

Do not be fooled for a moment. This isn't shrugging it off. This isn't ignoring what's happening. This is holding its nerve because of

uncertainty. I'm pretty certain and I bet next week's dinner money on it, that if there was some serious threat to supply that oil, gas commodities

wheat, they will go through the roof once again. And that's the reality of the markets.


At the moment it's wait and see just a little bit longer. And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight. A busy night. I'm Richard Quest. And it's only

Monday. Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I trust it will be profitable.