Russian Mercenary Leader Asserts Control Over Southern Military Headquarters as Putin Pledges Swift Response


A long-standing conflict between the Russian military and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Russia’s private Wagner military group, has escalated recently due to disagreements over the invasion of Ukraine.

Prigozhin accused Russia of attacking his soldiers and challenging one of President Vladimir Putin’s main reasons for the war. In response, Russian generals accused Prigozhin of attempting a coup against Putin.

Prigozhin claimed to have control over Russia’s southern military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, near the Ukrainian war zone where his fighters operated. Videos showed him entering the headquarters’ courtyard.

This situation presents a significant challenge to Putin’s authority since the Ukrainian invasion last year. Putin promised to take decisive actions, and Russian security forces rushed to regain control in the southern region.

Recent developments include Prigozhin criticizing the Russian military in online videos, alleging attacks on Wagner encampments and the loss of many fighters. While his claims couldn’t be verified, he threatened to bring soldiers into Russia in retaliation.

Troops believed to be Wagner forces surrounded the military headquarters in Rostov, with tanks seen on the city streets. Soldiers were also spotted in other key locations like the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

There were signs of fighting near the western Russian city of Voronezh, including destroyed vehicles and helicopters, suggesting Wagner fighters had entered the region.

Prigozhin declared that his forces were heading to Moscow, determined to continue their actions.

Russian military vehicles appeared on the streets of Moscow and Rostov-on-Don, while convoys of military equipment were moved along a major highway connecting the two cities.

Reports indicated that Russian security forces had raided a Wagner building in St. Petersburg.

Putin pledged to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don, describing Wagner’s actions as an armed rebellion and treasonous. Prigozhin denied these allegations.

Key Figures:

  • Prigozhin: A businessman with ties to Putin, who has complained about Russia’s military in the past.
  • Putin: Addressed the situation publicly, indicating its seriousness. He prefers to exert power discreetly until the outcome is clear.
  • The generals: Prigozhin’s conflict with Russian generals stemmed from the battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, where his forces fought on the Russian side. He accused the defense minister and a senior general of treason, claiming they withheld supplies from Wagner during the war.
  • Ukraine: President Zelensky highlighted Russia’s weakness, but violence continues in Ukraine. Russian forces launched missiles at Kyiv, resulting in casualties.

What’s Next: The British military described the crisis as the most significant challenge to the Russian state recently. They emphasized the importance of Russia’s security forces, especially the Russian National Guard, in determining how the crisis unfolds.

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