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After President Putin’s televised address calling the rebellion a betrayal, he has also spoken to various commanders asking them to get back to their positions on the battlefield, according to Kremlin. The Wagner group has replied to Putin’s message as a “wrong choice” and that Russia will soon have a new President.
War of Words
It would not be entirely wrong to conclude that the coup which was initially only against the Russian military has now turned against the Russian state. Several Analysts who had suggested the same earlier may have been right. Prigozhin, rebuking Putin, made a statement saying: “No one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB, or anyone else. No one wants to go on living in corruption and deceit… Who opposes us are those who have gathered around the scum.”
Currently the Wagner group is in the Voronezh region, which is only about 500 km from Moscow, where Prigozhin claims he has control of the Rostov HQ and controls all the military Sites. The Wagner group has also intended to cut off Moscow’s connectivity to the South. Similarly, as of 2:30 IST, reports that the Kremlin regime has closed the bridge over the Oka River south of Moscow came in.
Increasing Resistance to Wagner Group
Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Chechen Republic, openly expressed his complete endorsement of Russian President Vladimir Putin, affirming his full support. He also disclosed that the National Guard forces under his command are presently taking action against Wagner PMC positions located in the Rostov Region.
Reuters reported that his forces were ready to help put down a mutiny by Wagner mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and to use harsh methods if necessary. Kadyrov also noted Prigozhin’s behavior being “a knife in the back” and called on Russian soldiers not to give in to any “provocations.” Reports of Wagner fighters facing some local resistance from citizens of Rostov too have emerged.
In his address, President Putin called on the fighters of the Wagner to stop the “armed mutiny” stressing on Russia’s struggle for future against Neo-Nazis. In a message stressing for unity, Putin noted that “the entire military, economic and informational machine of the West is directed against us (Russia)”. He went on to compare today’s armed struggle to the one in 1917, a struggle which he blames caused Russia to lose the first world war. The “betrayal” he said is of the same nature.
Subsequently, the Wagner Centre in St. Petersburg has been raided and security has been tightened, reported RT News.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine emphasized, “Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness.” The British Ministry of Defense stated that this represents “the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times” and highlighted the importance of Russia’s security forces, especially the Russian National Guard, in shaping the outcome of the crisis. According to Britain, the Wagner Group forces have crossed from Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine to Russia and have “almost certainly” taken control of key security sites in Rostov-on-Don, including the headquarters managing Russian military operations in Ukraine.
The situation in Russia has drawn attention from global leaders, with President Emmanuel Macron’s office stating, “We stay focused on the support to Ukraine,” and the German Chancellor’s spokesperson remarking, “We are monitoring events in Russia closely.” Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s office acknowledged that Russia’s assault on Ukraine is causing instability within Russia. Polish President Andrzej Duda tweeted, “The course of events beyond our eastern border is monitored on an ongoing basis.” The White House has called the situation “real” & “serious.”
A retired US General, while talking to the NBC, cautioned that countries should watch these developments with interest. That Prigozhin is but a “gangster” which does not make him better than Putin particularly as the nuclear country plunges into a potential civil war.