Vladimir Putin addresses the nation after losing patience with his one-time ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is leading an uprising against the country’s defense ministry, taking control of an important city used by the military to direct operations in Ukraine.
Saturday, June 24, 2023 17:31, UK
Moscow residents have been told to stop moving around the city and security agencies have set up machine-gun positions on the outskirts as a convoy of rebel mercenaries swept from the south of the country.
It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the leader of the Wagner group of treason and leading an “armed mutiny”.
Condemn the actions of a former ally Yevgeny Prigozhinwho is led the uprising that overthrew the Russian defense ministerhe considered it a “stab in the back” to the soldiers and people of the country.
But Prigozhin denied the betrayal and called his warriors “patriots”.
Boss Wagner and his army capture the city 300 miles from Moscow – Russia’s latest mutiny
The convoy was moving quickly from the south of Russia and is believed to be around the Lipetsk region, about 500 kilometers from the center of Moscow.
The Russian leader has previously tolerated insults and threats from the man nicknamed “Putin’s chef” because of the catering businesses he owns that provide the Kremlin with food. , but his patience was eventually exhausted in the face of the current civil unrest.
According to the British Ministry of Defense, the confrontation “is the biggest challenge facing the Russian state in recent times”.
Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin urged residents not to travel and declared Monday a “non-working day”.
“I ask you to limit travel in the city as much as possible,” he said.
“The situation is very difficult… the city’s services are on high alert,” he added.
Russian media showed groups of police stationed with machine guns in the south of the city.
In some of the latest developments:
• The mayor of Moscow asked people to stop moving around the city when the rebel convoy approached
• Russian helicopters open fire on rebel mercenaries heading to Moscow
• A fuel tank exploded at an oil depot in the city of Voronezh, where Wagner fighters held key locations
• The UK’s emergency COBRA committee met to discuss the situation in Russia, including the plight of British nationals there
The crisis occurred when Prigozhin announced that he and his troops had reached Rostov-on-Don after crossing Russian word border Ukraine and took control of key locations including the airport.
The city is home to the headquarters of the Russian military that directs the invading forces in Ukraine.
The group of mercenaries is also believed to have seized defense facilities in the city of Voronezh, about 500 kilometers south of Moscow.
According to Governor Alexander Gusev, the Russian military is conducting “combat measures” in the Voronezh region “as part of an anti-terrorist operation”.
Residents in the Lipetsk region, a few miles to the north, have been told to stay indoors due to the risk of fighting.
Prigozhin has vowed to “destroy anyone who stands in our way”.
“This is not an armed rebellion, but a march of justice,” he said.
In a televised address, Putin said: “That is tantamount to an armed mutiny.
“Russia will defend itself and repel this move.
“We are fighting the lives and security of our citizens.
“It was an attempt to overthrow us from within.
“This is a knife in the back of our army and the Russian people.”
He added: “The entire Western military, economic and information machine is working against us.
“This battle, when the fate of our nation is being decided, requires unity of forces, solidarity, unity and responsibility.
“The conspirators and organizers of an armed uprising, who raised their weapons against their comrades, betrayed Russia. And they will pay for it.”
Wagner’s rebellion is a disaster waiting to happen
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is now a matter entirely created by the Kremlin.
His business empire has grown and expanded over the past decade, gaining a character as dangerous and violent as ever, from cook to liaison, troll to mercenary.
Prigozhin’s rhetoric in recent weeks against Russia’s top military has grown more sinister and dangerous, but he is still allowed to continue unchecked.
Perhaps President Vladimir Putin has been lulled into a false sense of security because he himself has never been subjected to a face-to-face name check. If so, that seems like a terrible oversight.
However, Prigozhin said: “Regarding the betrayal of the motherland, the president is deeply mistaken. We are patriots of our homeland.”
He has a long-standing feud with the Ministry of Defense in Moscow led by Sergei Shoigu, who he claims targeted his troops and ordered missile attacks on Wagner’s camps in Ukraine. – kills “a large number of our comrades”.
He said the attack came after he considered the country’s top military “evil” and argued that the Kremlin’s fundamental reason for invading Ukraine last February was based on words lie.
This was denied by Moscow, which described the allegations as “untrue and an information provocation”.
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The FSB security service urged the mercenaries not to carry out “criminal and treasonous orders” and detained Prigozhin.
Dangerous mercenary boss Wagner is a disaster waiting to strike Putin
Who is Yevgeny Prigozhin and why does Putin feel threatened by him?
In a sign of how seriously the Kremlin takes this threat, security has been beefed up in Moscow.
While the outcome of the confrontation remains unclear, it is likely to further hamper Moscow’s war effort as Kyiv’s forces test Russia’s defenses in the early stages of a counterattack.
Wagner forces played a key role in Russia’s war in Ukraine, successfully capturing the city where the bloodiest and longest battles took place, Bakhmut.
But Prigozhin became increasingly critical of the Russian military leadership, accusing them of incompetence and a lack of weapons and ammunition for his army.