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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Russia. The revolt of the Wagner Group. 36 hours of “justice march”

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On Saturday, the head of the Wagner Group – a private Russian military company – Yevgeny Prigozhin led an armed rebellion in Russia. The forces subordinate to him set off from Ukraine on a “march of justice”, the goal of which was to be Moscow. The Wagnerian troops approached the Russian capital to a distance of 200 kilometers. Eventually, as a result of negotiations with Vladimir Putin, mediated by the Belarusian dictator Alankandr Lukasheka, Prigozhin held off the onslaught and agreed to go to Belarus to, as he claimed, “avoid bloodshed.” This is how events unfolded in Russia, which the whole world followed closely.

Friday, 11 a.m. – Prigozhin questions rationality war in Ukraine

In a series of videos that began to appear on social media on Friday morning, Moscow time, Prigozhin questioned the Kremlin’s motives for justifying its aggression against Ukraine. In one of the recordings, the head of the Wagner Group said that units of the regular Russian army attacked a Wagner camp in Ukraine, which, he claimed, resulted in numerous deaths on the mercenary side. He blamed the Russian defense minister for the raid Sergey Shoigu. He also announced that he intended to “restore justice” in the armed forces and called for no opposition to him. “The evil carried by our country’s military leaders must be stopped,” he said in a voice recording posted around 9 p.m.

READ MORE: The owner of the Wagner Group accused Russia of attacking his troops

Friday night – Russian authorities issue an arrest warrant for Prigozhin

Russian security agencies condemned the actions of the leader of the Wagner Group. Prigozhin was officially branded a rebel and accused of attempting a coup. The Federal Security Service, Russia’s main intelligence agency, launched an investigation against Prigozhin in connection with the armed rebellion. The FSB also called on Wagner’s soldiers not to heed his calls and to detain him. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office also announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against Prigozhin.

Videos appear on social media showing armored vehicles of the Russian army and national guard deployed on the streets of Moscow and Rostov-on-Don, where, according to Pirozhin’s announcement, the Wagnerian forces were supposed to be heading.

Moscow puts up barriers after threats from PrigozhinPAP/EPA/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Saturday, 7:30 am – the Wagnerians occupy Rostov-on-Don

On Saturday morning, the leader of the mercenaries announced that he was at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don, waiting for the arrival of Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Chief of the General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov. He threatened that otherwise the Wagnerians would “go to Moscow”.

Members of the Wagner Group in Rostov-on-DonPAP/EPA/ARKADY BUDNITSKY

Prigozhin declared that his troops did not have to fire a single shot to capture the headquarters of the Southern Military District. He also reported that the forces of the Wagner Group were shelled by artillery and helicopters on their way to Rostov-on-Don. He expressed confidence that he had the support of the Russian people in his – as he called it – “march of justice”.

READ MORE: Wagnerians in Russia’s Rostov Oblast. The governor calls for calm

Footage circulating online showed armed Wagner Group militants on the streets of the city – controlling traffic at key intersections, walking around the city with takeaway coffee and ordering fast food, the New York Times reported.

Combat vehicles in RostovReuters

Saturday morning – Prigozhin’s forces advance on Moscow

After capturing Rostov-on-Don, the Wagnerians under the command of Prigozhin moved north towards Moscow. A column of armored and passenger vehicles left Rostov. Another military column traveled from Ukraine to Russia’s Voronezh region, where the Wagnerites met little resistance. Prigozhin said his forces shot down a Russian military helicopter that “opened fire on a civilian convoy.” A little later, information appeared that the Wagner Group took control of all military facilities in Voronezh, a city located 500 km south of the Russian capital.

The Wagnerians go to Moscow.  Prigozhin: I urge you not to resist

The Wagnerians go to Moscow. Prigozhin: I urge you not to resistPaweł Laskosz/Fakty po Poludnie TVN24

Saturday, 10 am – message Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a televised address to the nation in which he called for unity in the face of “the war against Ukraine and its allies.” – Fighting for the fate of our nation requires unity. Actions that divide us are a betrayal, a stab in the back, as in 1917. We will not allow it,” the Russian dictator announced.

READ MORE: Putin on “betrayal” and “stab in the back”. “I will do everything to protect Russia”

Putin called the soldiers of the Wagner Group who took up arms against the Kremlin traitors, and assured that the rebels would be held accountable before the law and the nation, and that Russia would be defended. He announced that the rebellion of the Wagner Group is a “mortal threat” to the Russian state, so “definite action” will be taken to stabilize the situation.

“We will not allow the civil war to repeat itself, we will protect our people and our statehood,” Putin said.

Putin on the Wagnerian rebellion: It is a betrayal of the state and the nation.  A stab in the back

Putin on the Wagnerian rebellion: It is a betrayal of the state and the nation. A stab in the backTVN24

Saturday, early afternoon – the convoy of the Wagner Group reaches Jelec

After breaking through the Voronezh region, the armored columns of the Wagner Group reached Yelts – a city in the Lipetsk region, located about 400 kilometers south of Moscow. The column consisted of tanks, armored vehicles, at least one self-propelled rocket launcher and numerous passenger cars, the New York Times lists. He adds that until then the Wagnerian forces had not encountered much resistance.

“Justice March” of the WagneriansGoogle Maps/tvn24.pl

Saturday, 20:30 – negotiations and an unexpected agreement

The office of the Belarusian president Alyaksandr Lukashenko unexpectedly announced that Yevgeny Prigozhin, as a result of negotiations – mediated by the Belarusian leader – agreed to stop the march of mercenaries through Russian territory. It was reported that Lukashenko, in consultation with Vladimir Putin, had a conversation with Prigozhin.

READ MORE: The Kremlin and Prigozhin have an agreement. What’s in it?

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov presented on Saturday evening the terms of the agreement ending the rebellion of the mercenary military Wagner Group, which has been ongoing since Friday. According to its provisions, Russia is to refrain from punishing the mercenaries involved in the conflict, including their boss Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is to move to Belarus. Peskov noted that the Belarusian dictator became the mediator in the conflict on his own initiative Alexander Lukashenko. The Kremlin announced that it “very much appreciates its efforts” to end this “tragic” event, which was Saturday’s march of the Wagnerians to Moscow.

Saturday, 11 pm – Prigozhin’s forces retreat

Yevgeny Prigozhin published a recording on the Internet, in which he informed that the Wagner Group reached a distance of 200 km from Moscow and during that time “did not shed a single drop of the blood of its soldiers.” He added that “now the moment has come when this bloodshed can take place”, so “realizing the responsibility” for such a situation, the mercenaries begin to retreat. “We’re going back to the field camps,” announced Prigozhin.

READ MORE: Prigozhin: I gave the order to turn back the mercenaries, there was a risk of bloodshed

The Wagnerians left Rostov-on-Don on Saturday before midnight. According to the New York Times, some residents of the city took to the streets to show their support. Prigozhin left Rostov in a heavily guarded black SUV, the daily adds.

Prigozhin: I gave the order to turn back the mercenaries, there was a risk of bloodshed

Prigozhin: I gave the order to turn back the mercenaries, there was a risk of bloodshedTVN24

New York Times, tvn24.pl, PAP

Main photo source: PAP/EPA

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