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Wagner group takes control of Russian military HQ, What's next?

The armed mutiny that the head of the Wagner Group announced on Friday night came true at dawn on Saturday. After declaring himself

By Ground report
New Update
Wagner troops take Over military headquarters in southern Russia

The armed mutiny that the head of the Wagner Group announced on Friday night came true at dawn on Saturday. After declaring himself in absentia and calling to "stop" the high command of the Russian Army, including the Defense Minister, Yevgeny Prigozhin has assured that his troops have returned to Russian territory and have entered Rostov-on-Don, one of the great Russian cities, with more than a million inhabitants.

Using his Telegram channel, Prigozhin claimed to have the Russian General Staff in that city under his control. "We are in the General Staff, 7:30 Moscow time (0430 GMT; 6:30 in Barcelona), we control the Rostov military installations, including the airfield," he said in a video.

"We will advance towards Moscow" 

Earlier, another Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel posted a video of a meeting between Prigozhin in Rostov-on-Don with Deputy Defense Minister Yunus-Bek Evkurov and Deputy Commander of the General Staff Vladimir Alexeeev.

The controversial businessman declared that as long as Wagner "does not have in his power the chief of the Russian General Staff, Valeri Gerasimov, and the Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, his mercenaries "will blockade the city of Rostov" and "advance towards Moscow".

On Friday, the founder of this private army accused the Russian Army of attacking the camp of its fighters, encouraged a rebellion and assured that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who is very close to Putin, would be arrested. Hours later, the Federal Security Service (FSB, formerly KGB) accused him of armed rebellion.

From 12 to 20 years in prison for calling for a military rebellion

The Russian Anti-Terrorism Committee claimed that "the statements released on behalf of Yevgeny Prigozhin had no foundation" and announced that the FSB had opened a criminal case against the controversial Wagner chief for calling for "armed rebellion."

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office confirmed the accusation and noted that the penalty for this crime is punishable by between 12 and 20 years in prison.

"Those who killed our boys, those who killed thousands and tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished," Prigozhin announced on Telegram on Friday, calling on forces under the Defense Ministry not to resist Wagner because, otherwise, they will be "deleted immediately".

Wagner assures that he has 25,000 troops

After encouraging a "rebellion" against the military commanders, he claimed to have 25,000 men and called on the Russians, especially the soldiers, to join them. "We are 25,000 and we are going to determine why chaos reigns in the country (…) Our strategic reserves are the entire army and the entire country," he said before continuing to call "anyone who wants to join us" to "end the mess".

Wagner's men spearheaded months of Russia's offensive to take the city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine. During those combats, he harshly criticized Shoigu and the head of the Army, Valeri Gerasimov, for not sending enough ammunition to his men.

After opening the criminal case against him, Prigozhin said that the desire to end the reigning "chaos" is not a military coup. "It is a march for justice. Our actions will not interfere with (the activity) of the troops" in Ukraine, he assured.

Not a "military coup", but a "march for justice", says Prigozhin

In several messages on Telegram, Prigozhin accused the Ministry of Defense on Saturday of sending "18-year-old boys, who could be our children or grandchildren" to stop their advance.

"That's why these boys are going to live and return to their mothers," he added. "We only fight professionals, but if someone stops us on the way, we will annihilate them. We reach out to everyone, don't spit on our hand," she finished.

He also added that although his troops control the Rostov-on-Don airfield, missions aimed at Russian military intervention in Ukraine have not stopped. "The main command post works normally, there is no problem, not a single officer has been separated (from their duties). Therefore, if they tell you that Wagner hindered the work and that is why something collapsed at the front, know that It wasn't for this," he said.

How did Russia respond?

The Russian Defense Ministry has denied attacking Wagner's troops, calling the claim "informational propaganda". And the FSB also opened a criminal case against Prighozhin over his threats, accusing him of calling "an armed rebellion."

"Prigozhin's statements and actions are, in fact, calls for the initiation of an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and are a stab in the back for the Russian military fighting against Ukrainian pro-fascist forces," a statement said. from the FSB calling on Wagner's fighters to arrest their leader.

President Vladimir Putin is aware of the situation, according to Kremlin spokesman Dimitry Peskov.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities have stepped up security measures in Moscow, according to Russian state media TASS.

On social networks, military vehicles were seen circulating through the main streets of the Russian capital in the early hours of Saturday.

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