The commander of a Russian mercenary group claims some of his soldiers have fled Ukraine and entered a Russian city.

Advertisements

In his most genuine threat to the Kremlin, the owner of the Wagner private military contractor demanded an armed uprising to remove Russia’s defense minister. The security services ordered Yevgeny Prigozhin’s arrest right away in response.

Advertisements

Security was increased in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don, which houses the Russian military headquarters for the southern region and oversees the combat in Ukraine, as a sign of how seriously the Kremlin was taking the threat.

Advertisements

While the result of the conflict was still uncertain, it was likely to significantly impede Moscow’s war effort at a time when Kyiv’s forces were probing Russian fortifications in preparation for a counteroffensive. The conflict may also affect President Vladimir Putin and his capacity to present a united front, particularly if Prigozhin prevails.

Early on Saturday, Prigozhin asserted that his troops had entered Russia from Ukraine and had arrived in Rostov. He stated that there had been no opposition from young conscripts at checkpoints and that his forces “aren’t fighting against children.”

He said this in one of a string of furious video and audio posts that appeared on social media starting late Friday. “But we will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” he continued. “We are making progress and will persevere to the end.”

He stated that Wagner’s convoys were traveling alongside regular cars when General Valery Gerasimov, the head of the General Staff, ordered jets to hit them. There was no outside confirmation of Prigozhin’s claims that his forces shot down a Russian military helicopter that opened fire on a convoy of civilians.

A confirmation of Wagner convoys entering Rostov-on-Don was not yet available on Russian social media, despite Prigozhin’s claims to the contrary. Tanks and other armored vehicles were on the streets in a video broadcast online. However, it was unclear whether Wagner or military command was in charge of the troops as they took their positions. Earlier, large convoys of National Guard trucks could be seen on the road, and big trucks could block highways going into the city.

A column of military vehicles was moving along the main highway; the governor of the nearby Voronezh region informed the locals and urged them to keep off the road.

According to Prigozhin, Gerasimov ordered to attack Wagner field camps in Ukraine with rockets, helicopter gunships, and artillery fire after consulting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and deciding to eliminate Wagner.

The Wagner troops were instrumental in helping Russia win its war in Ukraine by seizing Bakhmut, the city where the bloodiest and longest fights were fought. But Prigozhin has grown more critical of the Russian military establishment, charging it inefficiently and depriving his troops of ammo and weapons.

Prigozhin, who claimed to be in charge of 25,000 soldiers, threatened to use force to overthrow Shoigu and urged the army not to fight, saying: “This is not a military coup, but a march of justice.”

He was accused of inciting an armed revolt by the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, a division of the Federal Security Services, or FSB, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence.

The FSB urged Wagner’s contract soldiers to detain Prigozhin and refuse to carry out his “criminal and treacherous orders.” It referred to his remarks as a “stab in the back to Russian troops” and claimed they amounted to inciting a war.
Putin was notified of the circumstance, and according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, “all necessary measures were being taken.”

Early Saturday, soldiers carrying assault rifles were stationed outside the Defense Ministry’s main building. Heavy military trucks and armored vehicles could be spotted in central Moscow. Traffic was backed up as the area around the presidential administration near Red Square was restricted.

However, despite the increased military presence, downtown pubs and eateries were crowded with patrons. People were dancing in the street close to the entrance of one bar near the FSB headquarters.

The mayor of Moscow declared early on Saturday that there were terrorist measures in place, including tighter road security and potential bans on large gatherings.
Military contractors were required to sign contracts with the ministry before July 1 to comply with a requirement. Still, Prigozhin, whose dispute with the Defense Ministry goes back years, refused to do so. He stated late on Friday that he was prepared to agree but that “they have treacherously cheated us.”

Advertisements

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here