Wagner plays a key role in the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. He led the recent attack on Bakhmut, a city located in eastern Ukraine. Prigozhin has recruited fighters in prisons and is widely regarded as a symbol for wartime Russia, ruthless.
On Friday, Russian generals accused a Russian businessman of trying to mount an attack on the Russian Federation.
This was a signal of an extraordinary confrontation between the
Chief and the military have been at odds for months about
The war tactics of's
Overnight, there were reports of military activity in southern Russia near Ukraine's border. On Saturday morning, the tycoon was reportedly seen in a military area near the border with Ukraine.
The group claimed control over parts of the southern Russian military command headquarters.
Uncertainty surrounded the Wagner forces and the threat they posed against the Kremlin. The confrontation was already the biggest challenge to Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine sixteen months ago. Putin, in a national address, called Wagner's actions "a knife to the back of our nation and people" and promised "decisive action." Here's what we currently know.
The tensions escalated on Friday night after Prigozhin claimed that the Russian military had attacked his fighters' encampments – a claim which could not be verified immediately. He called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a "racket", perpetrated by corrupt Russian elites. Prigozhin vowed to lead his 25,000 strong mercenary army on an offensive against the Russian Defense Ministry, but he claimed that it was not a military coup. Prigozhin was charged with "organizing a armed revolt" by the Russian authorities. General Vladimir Putin warned Prigozhin and his fighters to not "play into the hand" of an enemy who, he claimed, was waiting for Russia to deteriorate its internal political situation. Video footage shows armored vehicles of the Russian military near the front lines in Ukraine, where Prigozhin’s fighters were operating. The New York Times confirmed that other videos circulated online showing dozens of Russian soldiers getting out from military vehicles and pointing guns at the compound in southern Russia which is the military command station. The Rostov governor asked residents to remain in their homes early Saturday morning, saying the authorities would "do everything necessary" to guarantee their safety. Governor of Voronezh, a region north of Rostov that is nearby, said a military convoy was also moving along the local highway. The direction in which it was travelling was unclear. Ukraine's military posted on Twitter three words as the events unfolded in Russia: "We are Watching."
Who is Prigozhin?
St. Petersburg's tycoon, who has been close to Putin for many years, is part of an elite group of Russian oligarchs. He was among 13 Russians who were indicted in 2018 by a US federal grand jury for interfering with the 2016 U.S. elections. Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary company, a shadowy, private military firm, was first exposed during Russia's illegal annexation Crimea in 2014. Since then, it has exerted influence for Moscow in Syria and Libya, Central African Republic, Sudan Mali, Mozambique, and the Central African Republic. Wagner is key to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, and he led the recent attack on Bakhmut. Prigozhin has been viewed as a symbol for wartime Russia, ruthless and lawless. He has recruited fighters out of prison.
Why is Prigozhin so angry?
Prigozhin, in recent months, has made accusations against the Russian military leadership. He accuses Russian generals of failing to supply his forces with sufficient ammunition and ignoring soldiers’ struggles. While some analysts believed that Prigozhin would use his newfound prominence to gain a broader political influence and threaten Putin's power, the Kremlin tolerated these broadsides. The official patience was evidently gone by Saturday morning when the prosecutor general of the country announced that Prigozhin would be investigated for charges carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years. TASS, a Russian government news agency, announced that Prigozhin had been charged. Putin spoke briefly on Saturday morning on state TV about the situation in Rostov on Don, saying "decisive action" would be taken. He claimed that the functioning of the military and civil institutions in the southern Russian town of a million residents had been "basically blocked." Putin said that actions that split our unity were a form of defeatism in front of one's own people.
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