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Illinois elected officials comment on latest events in Russia

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(The Center Square) – Reaction is coming in following the unprecedented challenge of Russian President Vladimir Putin by a mercenary soldier group.

A feud between the leader of the mercenary group and Russia’s military leadership throughout the war with Ukraine erupted into a mutiny that saw the soldiers leave Ukraine and head toward Moscow. The group called off the march after getting within 200 miles of the Russian capital city.

Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said Monday that Putin’s power may be waning.

“He is seeing himself branded a war criminal for the barbaric acts that he’s engaged in, and now almost unprecedented in history, a direct confrontation with dissenters of those who don’t agree with his policies when it comes to Ukraine,” said Durbin.

The group’s leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, on Monday released the first audio statement since an aborted armed rebellion he staged on Saturday, defending the move as a reaction to an attack on his force from Russia that killed some of his fighters.

The Kremlin said it had made a deal for Prigozhin to move to Belarus and receive amnesty, along with his soldiers.

Ukraine has taken advantage of the mutiny by recapturing territory during its ongoing counteroffensive.

“Putin in my view is a brutal dictator, he’s an authoritarian, he had no justification or legality for the invasion of Ukraine,” Illinois U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, told PBS.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said tensions that sparked the action had been growing for months and believes the threat of internal turmoil could affect Moscow’s military capabilities in Ukraine.

“I don’t think we’ve seen the final act,” Blinken said on ABC’s “This Week” program.

Durbin said the U.S. is monitoring the situation to see where it goes from here.

“We’re watching it very carefully,” said Durbin. “We want to maintain stability in the situation as best we can from afar, but this is being sponsored and authorized by Russians and not by others.”

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