Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the private Russian Wagner mercenary group vows to “go all the way” to crumble Russia’s military leadership after being accused of “armed rebellion” by the Kremlin. The Wagner mercenaries, who had been fighting alongside the Russian army against Ukraine have now crossed from Ukraine into Russia.
Who had been a vocal critic of Russia’s military
On Friday, Mr Prigozhin, who had been a vocal critic of Russia’s military decisions during the war, claimed that Russia had ordered a deadly missile strike on his troops, and set out for vengeance. Since then, he says his troops had shot down a Russian helicopter that “opened fire on a civilian convoy”.
Authorities have said no such strike took place, and urge Mr Prigozhin to stop his ‘illegal’ actions, and have told people to stay within their houses where the Wagner mercenaries are in Russia. They say they would destroy anyone who stood in their way. President Vladimir Putin is receiving 24/7 updates on this situation, and has stepped up security around important facilities in Moscow like government buildings and transport.
The FSB, Russia’s security service, has opened a case against the rouge military leader, under charges of him “calling for an armed rebellion” and attempting to start armed civil conflict.
International eyes are also closely monitoring. The White House said it was keeping an eye on developments and consulting with US allies. The Ukrainian ministry of defence tweeted:
“We are simply watching.”
Meanwhile, Mr Prigozhin, in a video surrounded by the bodies of his troops, spoke against the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, saying the war was fought “so that Shoigu could become a Marshal.”
“Those who killed our lads, and tens of thousands of lives of Russian soldiers [in the Ukraine war] will be punished. I ask you not to resist. Anyone who does will be considered a threat and destroyed. That goes for any checkpoints and aviation in our way. Presidential power, the government, the police and Russian guard will not work as usual. This is not a military coup, but a march of justice.”