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Mercenary rebellion against Putin unfolds in major Russian city

President Vladimir Putin has told residents of Moscow to stay off the streets as an armed rebellion unfolds in Russia. Military vehicles are now on Red Square surrounding the Kremlin.

Putin, speaking in a nationally televised address on Saturday, vowed to protect Russia against what some are calling a coup led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Russian Wagner paramilitary group.

Western observers are speculating that Putin could declare martial law in the coming days.

“All those who prepared the rebellion will suffer inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders,” Putin said.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the chief and founder of the private military contractor Wagner, posted a video of himself in the key city of Rostov-on-Don at the Russian military headquarters that oversees the fighting in Ukraine on Saturday morning local time. He said that a large militia had crossed the border from Ukraine and is now occupying all the military installations across the key Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, including its airfield.

Rostov-on-Don, about 60 miles from the Ukraine border, is home to the headquarters of the Russian Southern Military District, which oversees the fighting in Ukraine. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the city has become the most important military city outside of Moscow.

Russia has issued a nationwide arrest warrant for Prigozhin’s arrest charging him with armed rebellion.

“These people who are responsible will certainly be brought to justice on behalf of our people,” he added.

Putin said that his armed forces have received instructions, and steps have been taken to secure Moscow.

“As president of Russia, and commander in chief, as a citizen of Russia, I am doing everything to repel this attack and to ensure the freedom and security of our citizens,” Putin said.

Video Posted on Social Media

Prigozhin, in a video posted to Telegram early Saturday, demanded to meet with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s top general, Valery Gerasimov, at the military headquarters to discuss the Russia-Ukraine war. He said Wagner troops would also move to Moscow if the two did not meet with him in Rostov-on-Don.

Prigozhin accused the Russian military and its leadership of an attack on Wagner soldiers Friday by the Russian military on Friday. He revealed that his mercenary field camps in Ukraine were struck Friday by rockets, helicopter gunships, and artillery fire, which killed some 2,000 Wagner soldiers.

Prigozhin said on Telegram that in response to the Friday attack allegedly by Russia’s military, soldiers of the Wagner mercenary group would punish Shoigu in an armed rebellion. He urged Russian soldiers not to offer resistance. “This is not a military coup, but a march of justice,” he said.

“Those who destroyed our lads, who destroyed the lives of many tens of thousands of Russian soldiers, will be punished.”

In another startling admission oOn Friday, Prigozhin said that Russia’s reason for invading Ukraine in February 2022—which Putin has called a “special military operation”—was based on lies from the army’s leadership.

Troops Have Crossed Into Russia: Prigozhin

Prigozhin claimed Saturday around 2 a.m. local time that his forces had crossed the border from Ukraine and were in Rostov-on-Don.

It is not known if Wagner forces continue to fight in Ukraine or if they have been told to stand down, or worse yet for Putin, to abandon their positions. Either scenario would be a bosot for Ukraine which has been gaining ground over the last week in its counter-offensive against the invading forces.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said all Russian security agencies were reporting to Russian President Vladimir Putin “around the clock” regarding the situation around Prigozhin. Peskov added that “necessary measures are being taken,” reported Russian news agency Interfax.

Separately, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence said in a Twitter post: “We are watching.”

–Wire services


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