UK Intelligence says Wagner will 'certainly' intend to reach Moscow
The British spy branch says that this event is the "most significant challenge" Russia has faced in recent times.
British intelligence said on Saturday that Wagner PMC intends to continue advancing toward Moscow and that the next few hours will determine how the events will develop, Russian Interfax reported.
The private paramilitary group will "almost certainly pursue the goal of reaching Moscow."
The UK's intelligence branch described the event as the "most significant challenge" that Russia has come against in recent times.
"Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times," the defense ministry posted on Twitter citing the intelligence report.
"Further Wagner units are moving north through Vorenezh Oblast, almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow. With very limited evidence of fighting between Wagner and Russian security forces, some have likely remained passive, acquiescing to Wagner," the ministry claimed.
[5/5] Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times.— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 24, 2023
Prigozhin's Wagner take control of Rostov
Earlier on Saturday, Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on his Telegram channel storming the Rostov 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.
A national security threat
Prigozhin was slammed with criminal charges for staging an armed mutiny in the region located southwest of Russia.
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.
Moscow's Mayor sounded the alarm, while critical structure has been placed under heavy protection and 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.
In response to Prigozhin's mutiny, Russia's President Vladimir Putin made a live address stressing that he has instructed government bodies to neutralize the threats.
Treason will not go unpunished
Putin vowed that all parties responsible for the attempted armed mutiny in Rostov will face the rule of law and will have to answer to the people of Russia.
"Decisive measures are also being taken to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don. It remains complicated, with the work of civilian and military administrative bodies effectively blocked," Putin said.
All those who "deliberately took the path of treason, who prepared an armed uprising, who took the path of insurrection and terrorist methods, will suffer inevitable punishment, will answer to the law and our people," he said, confirming that he has instructed agencies to neutralize the armed mutiny.
The president also called on those who are "being dragged into this crime not to make the fatal and tragic, unspeakable mistake and to make the only right choice — to stop participating in criminal actions," he said.
Recalling the division that occurred in the country during WWI, Putin confirmed that he will not let this occur again. "We will not let this happen again, we will protect both our people and our statehood from any threats."
Internal turmoil is "a mortal threat to our statehood, to the nation," he added, vowing strict action to protect Russia from such a threat.