Prigozhin Halts Mutinous Wagner March on Moscow



MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“




Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

Sputnik International


MIA „Rosiya Segodnya“

evgeny prigozhin, rebellion, mutiny, russia, belarus, ukraine, vladimir putin, alexander lukashenko, sergei shoigu, explainer, russian military, russian defense ministry

evgeny prigozhin, rebellion, mutiny, russia, belarus, ukraine, vladimir putin, alexander lukashenko, sergei shoigu, explainer, russian military, russian defense ministry

PMC Wagner chief Evgeny Prigozhin has confirmed that his forces have halted their attempt to reach the Russian capital to “sort out” the MoD’s top brass over an alleged missile attack on Wagner positions. What exactly happened? What triggered the Wagner-MoD crisis in the first place? How did things reach such a dangerous point? Sputnik explains.

In a recording posted to his Telegram page on Saturday, Prigozhin said that his forces had traveled to within 200 km of Moscow, all without shedding “a single drop of our fighters’ blood.” Recognizing that advancing further might result in unnecessary carnage, the private military company chief ordered his men to turn around and head to their home bases to avoid further destabilization.

Later, Wagner forces left the city of Rostov-on-Don, returning to their bases.

What Exactly Happened?

Prigozhin’s message confirmed reporting in Belarusian media earlier in the day citing the presidential press office that the Wagner chief had agreed during negotiations mediated by President Alexander Lukashenko that “unleashing a bloody massacre on Russian territory” would be “inadmissible.”

Lukashenko was said to have tabled an “absolutely advantageous and acceptable option for resolving the situation” after talks lasting for most of the day Saturday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said later in the day Saturday that Wagner fighters involved in the mutiny wouldn’t be prosecuted, and that Prigozhin would be allowed to leave Russia on the personal guarantee of the president. The Wagner PMC has yet to confirm the details of this arrangement.

Presidential palace in Minsk, Belarus. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.06.2023

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Over the past 24 hours, Russian officials and military leaders ranging from President Putin and frontline commanders Generals Sergei Surovikin and Vladimir Alekseyev and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova and the Belarusian Security Council emphasized that Wagner’s mutiny could not have come at a worse time, with Putin pointing out in his address to the nation Saturday morning that Russia is presently facing off against the “entire military, economic and informational machine of the West.”

“Therefore, any actions that split our nation are essentially a betrayal of our people, of our comrades-in-arms who are now fighting at the frontline. This is knife in the back of our country and our people,” Putin said.

What Sparked Wagner’s Mutiny?

Prigozhin, a long-time outspoken of the Russian Defense Ministry’s leadership, alleged Friday that the Russian military had deliberately attacked Wagner’s bases.

“A missile strike has been carried out on PMC Wagner’s camps. There are many victims. According to eyewitnesses, the strike was delivered from the rear, that is, carried out by the Russian Ministry of Defense. They vilely deceived us and tried to deprive us of the opportunity to defend our homes,” Prigozhin said in a message posted to Telegram.

Shortly after, the PMC chief announced that after consulting, the council of Wagner commanders had made the decision to “stop” the “evil” being “carried by the military leadership of the country,” warning that he and his 25,000 men would go to Moscow to “sort out” what happened to comrades killed in the missile attack.

The Defense Ministry adamantly denied Wagner’s allegations, saying in a statement that “all messages and videos distributed on social media on behalf of Prigozhin about alleged ‘strikes by the Russian Defense Ministry on rear camps of PMC Wagner’ do not correspond to reality and are an informational provocation.”

Further details about the alleged strike on Wagner camps have yet to emerge. Did it really take place? What direction did it come from? What types of weapons were used? All of these questions will require further investigation.

If Prigozhin was looking to get attention with his statements, he certainly got it, with Russia’s Federal Security Service slapping him with charges of fomenting an armed rebellion – a serious charge carrying a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Rostov-on-Don - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.06.2023

LIVE UPDATES: Wagner Forces Prepare to Leave Rostov-on-Don Amid De-Escalation
On Friday night and overnight into Saturday, one could almost hear the champagne corks popping in Kiev and Western capitals, with the Zelensky administration, facing a stalled counteroffensive and the prospect of a rebellion of its own amid reports that Kiev is getting set to conduct a full-scale mobilization, admitting openly that Kiev would be only too happy to see a civil war in Russia.

“The next 48 hours will tell how the situation in Russia will develop. It would be beneficial for us, I will be frank, for there to be a full-fledged civil war in Russia,” Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said Saturday.

Outwardly, Western leaders offered more cautious assessments, with Washington and Brussels saying they were “monitoring the situation” and an EU spokesperson even saying that events in Russia were an “internal matter.” However, judging by growing internal opposition in the US and Europe to sending additional billions of dollars in support to Kiev as Western countries sink into recessions at home means that naturally, their wishes probably aren’t that far off from Zelensky’s.

What’s Behind the Prigozhin-Shoigu Feud?

Prigozhin, whose Wagner forces entered into the Ukrainian conflict in the spring of 2022, has been a vocal critic of the leadership of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, with their feud centering around the MoD’s alleged refusal to provide Wagner with sufficient ammunition.

Prigozhin has spent months demanding additional supplies, carefully avoiding criticism of frontline commanders like Sergei Surovikin, or President Putin, and claiming that the Russian president was not being informed about the situation at the front.

Russian soldiers undergo training - Sputnik International, 1920, 24.06.2023

Kremlin: Situation With Wanger PMC Won’t Affect Russia’s Military Op in Ukraine

Shoigu, a veteran official who has served as deputy prime minister, governor of Moscow region, and Minister of Emergency Situations before becoming defense minister, never commented on Prigozhin’s criticism publicly.

But probably the most direct origin of the crisis which has unfolded over the past 24 hours centers around the Defense Ministry’s decision earlier this month to make all volunteer units taking part in the special operation sign contracts with the military, to ensure that voluntary formations had the “necessary legal status.” This was something the Wagner chief and his men categorically refused to do.

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