Wagner chief takes control of military HQ in Russia

Wagner chief takes control of military HQ in Russia

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Wagner chief takes control of military HQ in Russia

Wagner Chief

Wagner chief takes control of military HQ in Russia. On Saturday, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group announced that he had infiltrated into Russia and taken possession of a key military headquarters, pledging to destabilize Moscow’s military leadership and declaring that he and his 25,000 fighters were “ready to die.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, 62, said his men, which have led much of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, had infiltrated and taken control of the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.
“We are inside the (army) headquarters, it is 7:30 a.m. (0430 GMT),” Prigozhin stated in a Telegram video.

“Military sites in Rostov, including an aerodrome, are under control,” he continued.

Russia’s military headquarters at Rostov-on-Don serve as a vital logistical hub for the country’s offensive in Ukraine.

Prigozhin stated that jets participating in the Ukraine war “are leaving as normal” from the airfield and urged Russians not to accept what they saw on official television.

“A vast amount of territory has been lost.” Soldiers have been slain three to four times the number stated in documentation presented to the highest (leadership).”

Armed men surrounded administrative buildings in Rostov, and tanks were deployed in the city center, according to videos and photos released online, notably by the state-run news agency TASS. The identity of the armed individuals was unknown.

President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to deliver a televised address on Saturday, according to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Security had been increased in various locations, according to Russian authorities, and the mayor of Moscow declared “anti-terrorist” measures in the capital and its environs.

The FSB security service accused Prigozhin of seeking to start a “civil war” and urged Wagner warriors to arrest him.

The Russian defense ministry urged Wagner fighters to “show reason” and desert Prigozhin, promising to “guarantee the safety” of anyone who did.

Prigozhin issued the most brazen challenge to Putin since the offensive in Ukraine began last year, accusing Russian top brass of authorizing strikes against his forces.

“We are dying for the sake of the Russian people,” he stated. “We’re all prepared to die.” “All 25,000, then another 25,000,” he claimed earlier in the audio message.

“We will destroy everything that stands in our way,” Prigozhin declared, claiming to have shot down a Russian military helicopter.

Critical facilities in Moscow were “under reinforced protection,” according to TASS, citing a law enforcement source.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov informed Putin of “the initiation of a criminal case in connection with an attempt to organize an armed rebellion.”

The unexpected occurrences occurred after Prigozhin accused Moscow of targeting his forces with missile attacks, claiming that “a large number of our fighters were killed.”

“The PMC Wagner council of commanders has made a decision — the evil that the military leadership of the country brings must be stopped,” he stated in a succession of rage-filled audio messages provided by his spokespeople.

He warned Russians not to oppose his forces and urged them to join him.

“We need to put an end to this mess,” he stated, adding that “this is not a military coup, but a march of justice.”

The FSB said in a statement, “Prigozhin’s statements and actions are in fact a call to start an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab in the back to Russian servicemen fighting pro-fascist Ukrainian forces.”

While Prigozhin’s outfit has been at the forefront of much of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, he has recently engaged in a bitter feud with Moscow’s military leadership, repeatedly blaming Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov for the deaths of his fighters.

According to the Russian defense ministry, Prigozhin’s accusations of an attack on his soldiers “do not correspond to reality.”

It was eventually revealed that Ukrainian troops were using the infighting to prepare an assault near the eastern hotspot of Bakhmut.

A senior Russian general encouraged Prigozhin to abandon his efforts to depose the defense ministry’s leadership.

“I urge you to stop,” said Sergei Surovikin, chief of Russia’s aerospace forces, in an extraordinary video message.

“Before it is too late, it is necessary… to obey the will and order of the Russian Federation’s popularly elected president.”

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an anti-Kremlin figure, urged Russians to back Prigozhin, saying it was OK to back “even the devil” in taking on the Kremlin.

The Institute for the Study of War, located in Washington, said the Wagner chief’s attempt to force a leadership change in the defense ministry “is unlikely to succeed” given Surovikin’s condemnation of his call for revolt.

It did, however, say Wagner’s attempts to seize control of Rostov-on-Don, a vital logistical base for Russia’s advance in Ukraine, “would have significant consequences for Russia’s war effort in Ukraine.”

The Ukrainian defense ministry said it was keeping an eye on the situation, while Mykhailo Podolyak, a top advisor to Ukraine’s president, claimed on Twitter that “everything is just getting started in Russia.”

Ukraine was also on high alert following a new bombardment of Russian missiles on Saturday, with casualties and damage reported in Kyiv and Dnipro, the country’s central city.

According to National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge, US President Joe Biden was told on the situation in Russia, and Washington “will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments.”

Prigozhin said on Friday that Moscow’s soldiers were retreating in Ukraine’s east and south following the launch of Kyiv’s counteroffensive earlier this month. This completely contradicted Putin’s claim that Ukraine was suffering “catastrophic” casualties and that fighting had ceased.

Prigozhin eventually admitted to controlling the enigmatic mercenary company Wagner and even participating in US elections after years of operating in the shadows.

His soldiers, boosted by tens of thousands of prison recruits, were critical in Russia’s seizure of Bakhmut in the war’s longest and bloodiest struggle.

However, this week he accused Moscow’s top brass of misleading Russians about the Ukrainian offensive.

“Why did the special military operation begin?” he asked. “The war was necessary for a bunch of bastards to promote themselves.”

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