Prigozhin’s Wagner Group makes headlines: Enter Rostov


The owner of private military company Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said on Saturday that his forces had advanced into Russia’s city of Rostov without resistance.

Prigozhin said that the Wagner camps were hit by rockets, helicopter gunships and artillery fire on the orders of the military’s chief of staff, General Valery Gerasimov. He accused Gerasimov of issuing the order after a meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, at which it was decided to crush Wagner.

He said Wagner troops were greeted by border guards as they entered the Rostov region and were now on their way to the city of Rostov. He said young conscripts at checkpoints held back and offered no resistance, adding that his forces “do not fight children”.

“But we will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” he said. “We’ll keep going and we’ll hold out until the end.”

This is a recent update. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The owner of private military company Wagner on Friday escalated his direct challenge to the Kremlin, calling for an armed uprising aimed at overthrowing Russia’s defense minister. The security services responded immediately by launching a criminal investigation into Yevgeny Prigozhin and calling for his arrest.

Prigozhin released a series of angry video and audio recordings in which he accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of ordering a rocket attack on Friday at Wagner’s base in Ukraine, where his troops are fighting on behalf of Russia.

Prigozhin said his troops would now punish Shoigu with an armed uprising and urged the army not to resist.

“This is not a military coup, but a march of justice,” Prigozhin said.

The National Counter-Terrorism Committee, which is part of the Federal Security Service (FSB), said it was under investigation on charges of inciting an armed uprising. The FSB called on Wagner’s contract soldiers to arrest Prigozhin and refuse to follow his “criminal and treacherous orders”. She called his remarks “a stab in the back of Russian troops” and said they amounted to inciting armed conflict in Russia.

Prigozhin was often with his troops near the front lines in Ukraine, but his whereabouts were unclear on Friday.

State news agency Tass reported that riot police and the National Guard tightened security at key facilities in Moscow, including government agencies and transport infrastructure, in a sign of how seriously the Kremlin takes the threat.

Russia’s chief prosecutor said the criminal investigation was justified and a charge of armed insurgency could carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the situation and “all necessary measures have been taken,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Wagner’s forces played a crucial role in the Russian war in Ukraine and they managed to capture the city of Bakhmut, where the bloodiest and longest battles took place. Prigozhin has often criticized Russia’s military leadershipHe accused him of incompetence and his troops for starving arms and ammunition, but his accusations and calls for armed insurgency on Friday presented a more direct challenge.

The Russian Defense Ministry required all military contractors to sign contracts with him before July 1, but Prigozhin, whose feud with the Defense Ministry dates back years, refused to comply. In a statement released late Friday, he said he was willing to find a compromise with the Department of Defense, but “they treacherously betrayed us.”

“Today they launched a rocket attack on our rear camps and a large number of our comrades were killed,” he said. The Ministry of Defense denied an attack on the Wagner camps.

Prigozhin claimed that Shoigu personally went to the Russian military headquarters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don to direct the attack on Wagner and then “cowardly” fled.

“These scum will be stopped,” he said, referring to Shoigu.

“The evil embodied by the country’s military leadership must be stopped,” he cried, urging the army not to resist Wagner on his quest to “restore justice.”

Security measures have also been tightened in Rostov-on-Don, Tass reported. The correspondent said military and law enforcement forces, as well as at least one armored personnel carrier and air patrols, were sighted on the streets.

Colonel-General Sergey Surovikin, the deputy commander of the Russian force group fighting in Ukraine, urged the Wagner troops to stop any move against the army, saying this would play into the hands of the enemies of Russia who are “waiting to wait.” . Aggravation of our domestic political situation.”

Another senior military officer, Lieutenant General Vladimir Alexeyev, called Prigozhin’s actions “insane” and threatened to trigger a civil war in Russia.

“It’s a stab in the back for the country and the president,” he said. “It is impossible to imagine a stronger blow to the image of Russia and its armed forces. Such a provocation could only be orchestrated by enemies of Russia.”

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Ukrainian military is concentrating troops to launch an attack around Bakhmut, taking advantage of “Prigozhin’s provocation.” Russian artillery and fighter jets were said to have fired on Ukrainian forces as they prepared to launch an offensive in the region.

In connection with other developments in the Ukraine war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on other countries to heed warnings that Russia may be planning an attack occupied nuclear power plant cause a radiation catastrophe.

Members of his government informed international representatives about the possible threat to the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, whose six reactors have been shut down for months. Zelenskyj said he expected it other nations “to give appropriate signals and to put pressure on Moscow”.

The Kremlin spokesman has denied that the power plant is threatened by Russian forces.

The possibility of a life-threatening release of radiation has been a concern ever since Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year and confiscated the facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. The head of the UN atomic energy agency tried for months to negotiate the establishment of a safe area protect the facility However, as nearby areas were repeatedly shelled, he was unsuccessful.

The International Atomic Energy Agency noted Thursday that “the military situation has become increasingly tense.” a Ukrainian counteroffensive The project, which started this month, takes place in Zaporizhia province, where the plant of the same name is located, and in an adjacent part of Donetsk province.

Although the last of the plant’s six reactors was shut down last fall to reduce the risk of a meltdown, experts warn there could still be a radiation release if the system that keeps the reactor cores and spent nuclear fuel cool runs out of power or lose water.

During months of fighting, Russia and Ukraine traded blame over which side was increasing the threat to the power plant. On Friday, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi met with the head of the Russian state nuclear company Rosatom in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to discuss conditions at the plant. Rosatom director Alexey Likachev and other officials “stressed that they now expect concrete steps” from the UN agency to prevent Ukrainian attacks on the plant and the adjacent area, according to a statement by the Russian company, whose branches build nuclear power plants and operate.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian officials accused Russia of exploiting the power plant’s cooling system, which was already threatened by a dam collapse earlier this week that flushed water into a reservoir that uses the power plant.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar said on Friday Russia had beefed up its defense forces in southern Ukraine and stepped up efforts to gain more ground in the east in response to the early counteroffensive. Asked whether the Ukrainian military’s initial attacks would have set the stage for a larger attack, Maliar told Ukrainian TV: “We have yet to see the main events and the main strike.” Indeed, part of the reserves will be used up later .”

So far, Ukrainian forces have made little headway in Zaporizhia province, one of four regions Putin illegally annexed last year. Putin has promised to defend the regions as Russian territory.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was fighting for it force Russian troops to withdraw of these regions as well as the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014 and uses as a deployment and supply route in the 16-month war. Should the counter-offensive break through Russian defenses to the south, Ukrainian forces could attempt to reach two occupied port cities on the Sea of ​​Azov and breach Russia’s land bridge to Crimea.

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