- Russia has launched a criminal investigation into Wagner boss Prigozhin
- Prigozhin said the Russian military attacked his forces
- Prigozhin promised retaliation and said his forces had crossed into Russia
- Prigozhin says that Wagner’s forces are fighting Russian troops in Rostov
- The spat occurred after Prigozhin criticized the Russian military leadership
This article was updated at 01:10 UTC
Prigozhin: Russian helicopter firing on ‘civilian column’ shot down
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, said in his latest audio message that: “A helicopter just opened fire on a civilian column. It was shot by units of [private military company] Wagner.”
Prigozhin’s brief message has not been independently confirmed by other sources. It is also not clear what he meant by a civilian column.
If true, the clash between Wagner’s mercenary forces and Russian military troops would mark a serious escalation in the conflict between Prigozhin and the Kremlin.
Russia: Putin announces situation ‘around the clock’
Russian President Vladimir Putin is receiving regular updates on the situation, the Kremlin said.
“The security services, law enforcement agencies, that is, the Defense Ministry, the FSB, the Interior Ministry, the National Guard always report to the president, around the clock,” Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s spokesman , was quoted as saying in Russian. media outlets.
Putin has yet to make any comments on Prigozhin’s rant against high-level Russian officials and the escalation of the war in Ukraine. His absence was noted by observers.
White House: Monitoring the situation in Russia
US National Security Council spokesman Adam Hodge said they are “monitoring the situation and will consult with allies and partners on these developments.”
Hodge added that US President Joe Biden has been briefed on the fast-moving situation in Russia.
Prigozhin: Ready to ‘go all out’ as mercenary forces cross from Ukraine to Russia
The head of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said that his forces had crossed the border from Ukraine into Russia and that they were ready to go “all the way” in their military challenge to Russia.
The Wagner chief said his forces had crossed the border into the southern Russian city of Rostov and added that his men would destroy anyone who stood in their way.
Prigozhin’s claims have not been independently verified, nor is there any video footage of Wagner’s troops crossing into Russia.
DW analyst: Russian forces may face off against Wagner’s troops
DW’s Russia analyst Konstantin Eggert said it was “possible” that Russian troops could face Wagner’s mercenary forces.
Eggert said the Kremlin ordered the mobilization of special police forces as well as the FSB state security agency.
“There are forces that, I think, will ultimately confront the Wagner group if they decide to go to war,” he said. “But it remains to be seen.”
Unconfirmed Telegram reports say that Prigozhin’s Wagner forces crossed into Russia from Ukraine without any resistance from Russian border guards.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin does not appear on television soon to address the situation, “it will look strange, it will look like weakness and I think it will have a lasting effect on Putin’s regime regardless the outcome of this particular crisis. is,” said Eggert.
Russia: Ukraine takes advantage of spitting out ready troops near Bakhmut
The Russian Defense Ministry accused the Ukrainian troops of taking advantage of the war between the Wagner group and the Russian military to prepare its troops for the attack on Bakhmut.
“Taking advantage of Prigozhin’s provocation to break the situation, the Kyiv regime near the Bakhmut front concentrated units…
Russian forces declared control of Bakhmut in May, but Ukrainian forces are making it difficult for Russia to hold the city as they form a counter-offensive to retake territory.
Russia: Prigozhin could be jailed for up to 20 years
The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office said on Telegram that Prigozhin’s actions could see him sentenced to 12 to 20 years in prison.
The office said Prigozhin was charged under Article 279 of the Russian Criminal Code for organizing an armed insurrection. “His actions will be given a proper legal assessment,” it added.
Security has reportedly been tightened in Moscow
Security has been increased around government buildings, transport facilities and other key locations in Moscow, Russian state media TASS reported.
The new measures came after Wagner’s head, Yevgeny Prigozhin, issued a challenge to Russia’s military leadership, calling for an armed rebellion aimed at ousting Russia’s defense minister.
How did Ukraine react?
Ukraine said it was monitoring the clash between Prigozhin and the Russian military leadership.
“We are watching,” the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense said.
Russia: Prigozhin’s claims are not based on reality
The Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee criticized Prigozhin’s claims about the alleged attack by Wagner forces.
“The allegations spread in the name of Yevgeny Prigozhin have no basis in reality. That is why the FSB has started criminal proceedings based on these statements for calling an armed coup,” said the committee.
Prigozhin, the outspoken leader of the Wagner Group, has clashed publicly with Russia’s defense chiefs for months, accusing them of battlefield failures in the war in Ukraine.
On Friday, the Wagner chief accused Russian military forces of beating and killing his mercenary forces.
Russia’s defense ministry denied the claim.
Russia: The FSB urged Wagner’s troops to ignore Prigozhin’s orders
The Russian Federal Security Service or the FSB encouraged Wagner’s troops to ignore Prigozhin’s calls for resistance and urged them to suppress the Wagner leader.
“Prigozhin’s statements and actions are in fact a call to start an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab in the back to Russian soldiers fighting pro-fascist forces in Ukraine ,” said the FSB.
The Russian commander urged Wagner’s forces to follow the military lead
A deputy commander of Russia’s war in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin, called on Wagner members not to oppose the military leadership.
“I urge you to stop,” Surovikin said in a video. “The enemy is waiting for the internal political situation in our country to worsen.”
“Before it’s too late, it is necessary and necessary to fulfill the will and order of the popularly elected President of the Russian Federation,” Surovikin added.
Putin is aware of Prigozhin’s situation
Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed on the situation regarding Prigozhin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Peskov said “all the necessary steps are being taken” after Prigozhin urged Russians to join him in the resistance against Russian military leaders.
Prigozhin is a close friend of Putin and was once known as “Putin’s chef.” Although Prigozhin has been critical of the Russian military and its handling of the war in Ukraine, he has refrained from criticizing Putin on behalf of him.
Russia launches criminal investigation into Wagner chief
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) launched a criminal investigation into Wagner’s head Yevgeny Prigozhin on Friday, accusing him of attempting a “coup.”
On Friday, Prigozhin accused the Russian military of attacking his forces in Ukraine.
“We are ready to make concessions to the defense ministry, hand over our weapons,” Prigozhin said in an audio message. “Now, seeing that we are not broken, they are conducting missile strikes on our rear camps. Many of our fighters, our comrades have died.”
Russia denies it attacked Prigozhin’s forces. Prigozhin called for volunteers to join him after the alleged Russian attack.
“This is not a military coup. This is a march for justice,” said Prigozhin.
rm, wd/ab (AP, AFP, Reuters, dpa)