- By Laura Kuensberg
- Sunday with host, Laura Kuensberg
Rishi Sunak urged all parties in Russia to be “responsible and protect civilians” as Wagner Group mercenaries seize military bases from Russia.
In the UK, a meeting of the emergency group COBRA was chaired by Foreign Secretary James Cleverley on Saturday afternoon.
We cannot hear much of what was said at those meetings, but the Government say that Mr. Wise received all the latest information and that special attention was paid to the situation of British nationals still in Russia.
Mr Sunak is due to speak to colleagues by phone later on how the international community should respond to the events.
Speaking exclusively to Laura Kuensberg on Sunday, Mr Sunak said the government had been looking at internal threats to Vladimir Putin for some time.
He told me: “We have been monitoring the potential destabilizing implications of Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine for some time.”
“The situation on the ground is evolving as we speak,” he said.
But he urged calm on all sides: “The most important thing I would say is that all sides must be responsible and protect civilians”, a clear indication that the UK is concerned about how the conflict spirals within Russia’s borders. The focus has naturally been on the fighting in Ukraine for months.
The prime minister did not repeat a more candid assessment from the Defense Ministry, which said on its official Twitter feed that “this is the most important challenge for the Russian state in recent times.”
But Mr Sunak did not deny it.
It’s clear that Number 10 doesn’t want to make an official judgment about what’s going on, even though it’s very vague.
Nevertheless, from the defense ministry’s comments, it is clear that the government sees the move as a viable game.
- Watch on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC News and streaming this Sunday 25th at 09:00 BST
- This week’s show features Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour’s shadow balancing secretary Lisa Nandy.
- Follow the latest updates in text and video from 08:00 on the BBC News website
The situation is volatile and no one in Westminster can predict with certainty what will happen next.
It is not clear what the intentions of Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin were.
Wagner was also unsure of how many resources and men they actually had at their disposal.
But one of the questions being asked in Westminster this afternoon is how Ukraine can take advantage of what appears to be chaos within Russia and move forward in what is now a long-running conflict.
Our politicians, like us, are watching events and wondering what on earth is going on, unable to say for sure what will happen next. But they are watching with interest.
The war in Ukraine has had such huge implications for politicians in the UK because it has indirectly affected every family, every company, and every home by raising energy costs.
This is one of the biggest factors in high inflation, which the Prime Minister describes as “enemy number one”.
We speak to the Prime Minister about her plans for the NHS and Boris Johnson in an exclusive interview you can watch on Sunday morning.
But as events unfold in Russia, keep in mind that the actions of one man, Vladimir Putin, are far greater here.
Moscow may be almost 2,000 miles away, but what happens in the next few days for stability in Russia is of utmost importance to our politicians in Westminster and to all of us.