Putin vows to crush ‘armed Wagner mutiny’!
In a dramatic turn, rebellious mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s private Wagner military group, has taken control of Russia’s southern military headquarters in the city of Rostov-on-Don, near the front lines of the war in Ukraine where his fighters had been operating.
In a televised address, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that “excessive ambitions and vested interests have led to treason”, and called the mutiny a “stab in the back”.
“It is a blow to Russia, to our people. And our actions to defend the Fatherland against such a threat will be harsh.”
“All those who deliberately stepped on the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed insurrection, who took the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer both to the law and to our people,” Putin said.
A Russian security source told Reuters that Wagner fighters had also taken control of military facilities in the city of Voronezh, about 500 km (310 miles) south of Moscow.
However, Reuters could not independently confirm that assertion or many of the details provided by Prigozhin.
Armed Wagner Mutiny
Prigozhin’s feud with the Russian generals is reported to have taken root out of the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which his forces led on the Russian side.
Prigozhin accused the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the country’s most senior general, Valery Gerasimov, of treason.
He said they deliberately withheld ammunition and supplies from Wagner while their troops failed repeatedly in the war.
Wagner chief vows to Topple Russian military leaders
The head of Russia’s Wagner mercenary group vowed to “go all the way” to topple Russia’s military leadership, hours after the Kremlin accused him of “armed rebellion”.
Yevgeny Prigozhin said his Wagner fighters had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia, entering the city of Rostov-on-Don.
Prigozhin said his men would destroy anyone who stood in their way.
At about 2 a.m. (2300 GMT), Prigozhin posted a message on the Telegram app saying his forces were in Rostov and ready to “go all the way” against the top brass and destroy anyone who stood in their way.
At about 5 a.m. (0200 GMT), the administration of the Voronezh region, on the M-4 motorway between the regional capital Rostov-on-Don and Moscow, said on Telegram that a military convoy was on the highway and urged residents to avoid using it.
On the other hand, the local government urged citizens there to keep calm and stay indoors.
According to videos posted online, signs of active fighting are visible near the western Russian city of Voronezh and Rostov-on-Don.
More Videos from #Voronezh appear on Russian Telegram Channels, showing how Russian MOD Forces have bombarded the City with missiles. #RussianCivilWar #Prigozhin #Putin #Shoigu pic.twitter.com/u8gvy3jd7O— TheLazyEuropean (@TheLazyEU) June 24, 2023
Loud explosion reported near military HQ in Rostov-on-Don— RT (@RT_com) June 24, 2023
A loud explosion has been reported near military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, according to RT correspondent Roman Kosarev who is in the city right now
Follow us on Telegram: https://t.co/gtQwYY5WSl pic.twitter.com/eHmxzJ4P8X
On the other hand, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday his forces were ready to help put down a mutiny by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and to use harsh methods if necessary.
In a statement posted on Telegram, Kadyrov called Prigozhin’s behavior “a knife in the back” and called on Russian soldiers not to give in to any “provocations.”
He added that Chechen units were moving towards the “zones of tension” and would act to “preserve Russia’s units and defend its statehood”.
Kadyrov, who commands extensive military forces in Chechnya, had previously been seen as a Prigozhin ally, sharing some of the Wagner boss’s criticisms of the Russian military hierarchy.