Wagner Chief Attempts “Armed Insurrection” in Russia: Kremlin

By Will Porter

The head of Russia’s Wagner private military firm, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has claimed to have captured a military facility in the Russian city of Rostov, after the mercenary chief accused government forces of attacking his fighters in Ukraine. The Kremlin has denied the allegations, instead labeling the move an “armed insurrection.”

In a video shared on Prigozhin’s personal Telegram channel early on Saturday morning, he declared that his troops had taken Russia’s Southern Military District headquarters in Rostov, insisting there were “no problems” and that the base was “operating normally.”

“All that’s being done is we are taking control to ensure assault aviation does not conduct strikes on us, and instead on Ukrainians,” he said. “Military objects in Rostov are under control, including the airfield. Planes that leave for battle [in Ukraine] are leaving nominally.”

On Friday, Prigozhin claimed a Russian “missile attack” on a Wagner camp had left “many victims,” sharing footage purporting to depict the aftermath of the strike. While the video appears to show the body of one dead soldier and multiple small fires in a wooded area, it includes little direct evidence of an attack.

In another post, the Wagner head stated: “There are 25,000 of us and we are going to figure out why chaos is happening in the country,” suggesting he would advance on Rostov, a major city in Russia’s southwest. He argued his actions did not amount to a “military coup,” instead describing the move as a “march for justice.”

Prigozhin has led an increasingly public war of words with the Russian government and military, repeatedly accusing officials of declining to supply the ammunition and gear needed to capture the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut (known as Artyomovsk in Russia). The town finally fell in May, after months of brutal fighting.

Russian authorities have rejected Prigozhin’s charges outright, with the Defense Ministry stating they “do not correspond with reality” while deeming his claims an “informational provocation.” On Saturday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia’s prosecutor general, Igor Krasnov, had launched criminal proceedings against Prigozhin for an “attempt to organize an armed insurrection.”

In a televised address, President Vladimir Putin later accused Prigozhin of a “betrayal of his country and people,” vowing to “react harshly” to the uprising.

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“Everything that weakens Russia should be thrown aside,” the leader said, adding that the military and police had received the “necessary orders” to deal with the “rebels.”

The Defense Ministry also pleaded with Wagner troops to abandon “Prigozhin’s criminal gamble,” claiming that some mercs had “already understood their mistake” and asked to return to their deployment areas. It added that fighters were “tricked” into taking part in the rebellion, but went on to “guarantee everyone’s safety.”

Russian security forces have stepped up their presence in several regions, with officials in Moscow, Rostov, St. Petersburg, Bryansk, Kursk, Tver, Voronezh and Lipetsk reporting increased security measures. In the capital, the National Antiterrorist Committee announced a “counter-terrorist operation regime” to prevent potential attacks, while some major roads and highways were closed to traffic.

As part of “counter-terrorist operations” around Voronezh, the region’s governor said the military was carrying out the “necessary operational and combat measures,” but did not elaborate.

Several unconfirmed videos purporting to show columns of Wagner military vehicles have circulated on social media, with one clip even alleged to capture a firefight between Russian troops and Wagner forces. The footage could not be verified, but local officials in Voronezh earlier observed that a “convoy of military equipment” was seen on the M4 highway, which links Rostov to Moscow. Government troops, including Russia’s national guard, were also said to be out in force across multiple cities, with some videos showing tanks and armored personnel carriers in the streets.

Source: Antiwar

Image: Pixabay

Will Porter is the assistant news editor of the Libertarian Institute and a staff writer at RT. He co-hosts Conflicts of Interest along with Kyle Anzalone and Connor Freeman.

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