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The private military company, Wagner Group headed by Yevgeny Prigozhin with up to 50,000 troops are in the middle of attempting a coup in Russia and have turned against Putin.
Prigozhin has apparently taken control of Russia’s southern military command headquarters in Rostov, a city of 1 million, with almost no resistance and is continuing to march to Moscow.
There are also unconfirmed reports of some Russian special forces and others joining Prigozhin against Putin.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says Wagner’s “betrayal” is a “stab in the back of our country and our people” and he warns those on “path of treason” or armed rebellion will be “punished” as Wagner insurrection plunges country into crisis.
Prigorzhin has released a video from Rostov claiming control of Rostov’s military command center on their way to Moscow.
An arrest warrant has been issued by Russian authorities for Prigozhin and he’s being charged with mutiny.
Moscow is fortifying all entries to the city.
Prigozhin, once a close advisor to President Vladimir Putin, says he is demanding retribution following what he claims to be a catastrophic loss of his forces in a series of strikes by the Russian military targeting his Wagner troops on Friday.
The Russian military, however, disputes the occurrence of such strikes, and there are no independent verification of his claims – which would be difficult to discern given the command and control of Russian and Wagner forces.
In a dramatic turn of events, with a Russian coup underway Prigozhin is leading his forces on a so-called “march for justice” into Rostov, a southern Russian city with 1 million people, known to be the military hub overseeing operations in Ukraine.
He reported that local young conscripts offered no opposition, although a Russian helicopter allegedly attacked his battalion and some reports are saying the Russian helicopter was shot down, inside of Russia.
In an audio recording broadcasted on Wagner’s social media on Friday, Prigozhin declared, “The malevolence that the country’s military leadership propagates needs to be eradicated. They have lost sight of justice, and we will ensure its return.” He added, “Those who dare to resist will be perceived as threats and promptly eliminated. This includes all checkpoints obstructing our path and any aircraft hovering overhead.”
In the face of an apparent Russian coup underway, heightened security measures are being enforced across Moscow, with the spotlight shining on Yevgeny Prigozhin.
As Moscow’s key facilities are secured by Russian soldiers aboard armored personnel carriers, high-ranking military officials with prior Wagner affiliations have appealed to the group’s soldiers, urging them to reconsider their actions. “The last thing we need is to unleash a real civil war inside the country. Come back to your senses,” urged Lt. Gen. Vladimir Alekseyev, the deputy chief of Russian military intelligence.
Witnesses captured footage of armored vehicles positioning across central Moscow, notably near the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament, and the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Founded by Dmitry Utkin, a former Russian military intelligence officer, the Wagner Group has been implicated in numerous conflicts worldwide. This, however, marks the first time the group is accused of attempting to subvert the government of its own country.
According to multiple sources, members of the Wagner Group launched a calculated offensive in the early hours of June 23, 2023. Their goal: to seize control of key governmental installations within Moscow and, ultimately, the Kremlin itself.
As a private military group, the Wagner Group operates outside the purview of the Russian military and is said to report directly to Russia’s President. This incident puts the complex and secretive relationship between the Russian government and the Wagner Group in the limelight, triggering a heated debate within and outside Russia.
Many political analysts are now questioning the impact this event will have on Russia’s already volatile political landscape.
Internationally, with a Russian coup underway, the news of the attempted coup has caused alarm, particularly among NATO member states. The EU, UN, and other international bodies are closely monitoring the situation.
The coup attempt, if confirmed, could constitute a significant turning point in Russia’s political history, potentially leading to considerable shifts in power dynamics. It also underscores the growing influence and unpredictability of private military companies in global politics.
As Russia grapples with this shocking turn of events, the world waits to see how the government will respond to the internal challenge posed by the Wagner Group.