Latest update: Wagner advances to Moscow
Wagner PMC chief says his move is against Russia's Defense Ministry, which he accuses of carrying out strikes in Ukraine, targeting his forces.
The chief of the Russian paramilitary group Wagner PMC was slammed with criminal charges for staging an armed mutiny in the Rostov region in southwest Russia early Saturday morning.
Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on his Telegram channel storming the region and taking over the military headquarters in response to what he claims was a Russian attack on his troops earlier under the orders of the Defense Ministry.
Due to the developing events, Moscow canceled all public events as the PMC came just 6 hours away from the Russian capital amid continued advancements, while Russian security units stormed Wanger's headquarters in St. Petersburg.
Update: Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his army have reportedly travelled through several checkpoints on their way toward Moscow, Russia with no resistance.— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) June 24, 2023
Prigozhin has called on the Russian National Guard to join his side to fight against the Russian Army.
The Wagner… pic.twitter.com/wF44yJEKL2
Prigozhin called on the group's supporters inside the Russian Federation to join his movement and rebel against Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, as well as the Chief of Staff and commander of the military operations in Ukraine Army General Valery Gerasimov.
The head of Wagner conditioned withdrawing from the city that Shoigu resigns. Meanwhile, the defense ministry rejected his claims of an airstrike targeting his forces.
PMC WAGNER IN ROSTOV— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) June 24, 2023
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that President Vladimir Putin was briefed about the ongoing situation, adding that "all necessary measures are being taken."
The Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement that a criminal probe was launched due to the seriousness of the situation, which poses a threat to the Russian Federation. FSB called Wagner forces not to comply with Prigozhin’s orders and detain him.
Prigozhin meeting with Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-bek Yevkurov— The_Real_Fly (@The_Real_Fly) June 24, 2023
The defense ministry said that it continues to conduct its mission in Ukraine, adding that Prigozhin’s move endangered the military operation, and allowed Kiev to take advantage of the situation.
Ukrainian forces reinforced its forces around Bakhmut, mainly the 35th and 36th Marine Brigades, and are preparing for an offensive to retake the city, the defense ministry added.
Putin updated around the clock
Peskov confirmed that Putin is being regularly updated about the measures that Russia is taking to end Prigozhin’s attack on Rostov.
All Russian security agencies report to Putin about measures being taken around the clock, according to the spokesman.
The National Antiterrorism Committee said that the Wagner chief's statements became grounds for the launching of the criminal case over charges of calls for an armed mutiny.
The Committee demanded an immediate halt to the illegal actions. For its part, Russia's Prosecutor General said that the criminal case was legitimate and justified.
The prosecutor's office promised to provide a legal assessment of his actions."Prigozhin’s statements and actions effectively constitute calls for an armed civil conflict on Russian territory and a stab in the back of Russian servicemen fighting with pro-Nazi Ukrainian forces," FSB's press office said.
We are in the HQ, 7:30 AM, military objects including airfield in Rostov are under our control. Aircraft go on schedule, there are no problems. We took control to prevent air force strik at us and inster continue attacks on Ukrainians. HQ works as usual, there are no problems 1 pic.twitter.com/pXqm2CaTFs— IntelSky (@Intel_Sky) June 24, 2023
Russia’s Deputy Commander of Russian joint forces in the operation in the Ukraine area Sergey urged the Wagner private military group to comply with Putin’s order and resolve peacefully.
"I urge you to stop. The enemy is waiting for our internal political situation to escalate. We must not play in enemy’s favor in this difficult time. Before it is too late, it is necessary to submit to the will and order to the nationally elected president of the Russian Federation, to stop the convoys, to take them back to their permanent deployment and concentration locations, and to only resolve all issues peacefully," Sergey Surovikin said.
Moscow on high alert
Moscow's Mayor sounded the alarm on the situation after Prigozhin announced that if the matter is not resolved his group will march toward the Russian capital.
The city's critical structure has been placed under heavy protection while security measures were increased, Russia's TASS said citing a source in a security agency, adding that the Russian National Guard special forces were placed on maximum alert.
The M-4 highway connecting Rostov-on-Don and Aksay was blocked by a Wagner checkpoint, in attempts to isolate the captured city and prevent Russia's military from entering it, the news agency said.
TASS added that cars leaving Rostov-on-Don toward Aksay have been redirected back.
The vicinity of the Southern Military District headquarters in Rostov-on-Don saw the establishment of military checkpoints by the PMC. The paramilitary group is also patrolling the city's streets using police cars and armored vehicles, in addition to foot patrols.
Rostov southern military district HQ.— ayden (@squatsons) June 24, 2023
Still zero fighting occurring. pic.twitter.com/LZnZxbhCzv
While jets were reportedly heard over the Western part of Rostov, no official confirmation was provided.
Authorities in Crimea called on residents to watch for updates on the situation only from official channels, citing an increased activity of Ukraine's Informational and Psychological Operation Center (TSIPsO).