The owner of the Wagner private military contractor, Yevgeny Prigozhin, called for an armed rebellion to oust Russia’s defense minister. In response, the security services called for his arrest and opened a criminal investigation. The Kremlin reacted seriously, increasing security measures in Moscow and Rostov-on-Don. Prigozhin claimed that his forces had crossed into Russia from Ukraine and had reached Rostov without resistance.
He accused the chief of the General Staff of attacking his forces and criticized Russia’s military brass for their incompetence and lack of support. Prigozhin urged the army not to resist his forces and declared it a “march of justice”. The National Anti-Terrorism Committee charged Prigozhin with calling for an armed rebellion. The defense ministry denied attacking the Wagner camps. Prigozhin had refused to sign contracts with the ministry and claimed that they had cheated his forces.
The White House said it will keep an eye on the situation and communicate with US allies. While on Saturday, Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered five minutes speech. In a five-minute speech, Putin made severe threats against the Wagner Saturday operation’s planners. “Everyone who deliberately embarked on the path of betrayal, who prepared an armed rebellion, chose the path of blackmail and terrorist methods, they will suffer inevitable punishment,” Putin said.
The Wagner Group is a Russian private military company that has been heavily involved in the Ukraine conflict since 2014, backing pro-Russian separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. It is estimated that the group now commands around 50,000 fighters in Ukraine, with troops heavily involved in Russia’s capture of the city of Bakhmut from Ukrainian forces.
The group is known to recruit heavily from Russian prisons and is alleged to have committed war crimes and massacred civilians in Ukraine. Despite its illegal status in Russia, the Wagner Group recently registered as a company and opened a new headquarters in St Petersburg and is now operating in other countries such as Libya, Syria, Sudan, Mali, and Central African Republic to guard diamond and gold mines. The Russian government appears to be taking steps to gain more control over the group.