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Wagner Chief Vows to Topple Russia Prime Brass, Says Fighters ‘Able to Die’

The pinnacle of the Wagner mercenary group on Saturday mentioned he had crossed into Russia and seized management of a key army headquarters, vowing to topple Moscow’s army management and saying he and his 25,000 fighters had been “able to die.”

Yevgeny Prigozhin, 62, mentioned his forces, who’ve spearheaded a lot of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, had entered the southern Russian metropolis of Rostov-on-Don and managed its army websites.

“We’re contained in the (military) headquarters, it’s 7:30 am (0430 GMT),” Prigozhin mentioned in a video on Telegram.

“Army websites in Rostov, together with an aerodrome, are beneath management,” he added.

Russia’s army headquarters in Rostov-on-Don are a key logistical base for its offensive in Ukraine.

Prigozhin mentioned planes collaborating within the Ukraine offensive “are leaving as regular” from the airfield, and referred to as on Russians to not imagine what they had been being instructed on state tv.

“An enormous quantity of territory is misplaced. Troopers have been killed three, 4 instances greater than it says in paperwork proven to the highest (management).”

Movies and footage posted on-line, together with by the TASS state-run information company, confirmed armed males surrounding administrative buildings in Rostov and tanks deployed within the metropolis middle. It was not clear who the armed males had been.

President Vladimir Putin was because of make a televised tackle on Saturday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov instructed Russian information companies.

Russian authorities earlier mentioned safety had been tightened in a number of areas, and the mayor of Moscow introduced that “anti-terrorist” measures had been being taken within the capital and its environs.

The FSB safety service accused Prigozhin of trying to launch a “civil battle” and urged Wagner fighters to detain him.

Russia’s protection ministry appealed to Wagner fighters to “present cause” and abandon Prigozhin, saying it will “assure the protection” of those that did so.

Prigozhin launched probably the most audacious problem to Putin for the reason that begin of the offensive in Ukraine final 12 months after accusing the Russian high brass of launching strikes in opposition to his males.

“We’re dying for the Russian folks,” he mentioned. “All of us are able to die. All 25,000, after which one other 25,000,” he mentioned within the earlier audio message.

“We’ll destroy the whole lot that stands in our means,” Prigozhin mentioned, claiming that his forces had shot down a Russian army helicopter.

In Moscow, vital amenities had been “beneath bolstered safety”, TASS reported, citing a regulation enforcement supply.

Prosecutor Basic Igor Krasnov had knowledgeable Putin of “the initiation of a felony case in reference to an try to organise an armed rise up,” Kremlin spokesman Peskov mentioned.

Missile Strikes

The extraordinary developments got here after Prigozhin accused Moscow of focusing on his forces with missile strikes that he mentioned killed “an enormous variety of our fighters.”

“The council of commanders of PMC Wagner has decided — the evil that the army management of the nation brings should be stopped,” he mentioned in a collection of livid audio messages launched by his spokespeople.

He warned Russians in opposition to resisting his forces and referred to as on them to affix him.

“We have to put an finish to this mess,” he mentioned, including, “this isn’t a army coup, however a march of justice.”

In a press release, the FSB mentioned: “Prigozhin’s statements and actions are the truth is a name to start out an armed civil battle on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab within the again to Russian servicemen preventing pro-fascist Ukrainian forces.”

Whereas Prigozhin’s outfit has been on the forefront of a lot of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, he has in latest months engaged in a bitter feud with Moscow’s army management and has repeatedly blamed Protection Minister Sergei Shoigu and Valery Gerasimov, chief of the final workers, for his fighters’ deaths.

‘Urge You to Cease’

The Russian protection ministry denied Prigozhin’s claims of an assault on his forces, saying the statements “don’t correspond to actuality.”

It later mentioned Ukrainian troops had been profiting from the infighting to prepared an assault close to the jap hotspot of Bakhmut.

A outstanding Russian normal urged Prigozhin to name off efforts to take away the protection ministry management.

“I urge you to cease,” Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russia’s aerospace forces, mentioned in a extremely uncommon video tackle.

“Earlier than it’s too late, it’s essential… to obey the need and order of the popularly elected president of the Russian Federation.”

Anti-Kremlin determine Mikhail Khodorkovsky, nevertheless, urged Russians to help Prigozhin, saying it was acceptable to again “even the satan” in taking over the Kremlin.

Washington-based suppose tank the Institute for the Examine of Struggle mentioned the Wagner chief’s try to power a management change within the protection ministry “is unlikely to succeed” provided that Surovikin had denounced his name for rise up.

Nonetheless, it mentioned Wagner’s makes an attempt to take management of Rostov-on-Don, a key logistical base for Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, “would have important impacts on Russia’s warfare effort in Ukraine.”

Kyiv’s protection ministry mentioned it was monitoring the state of affairs whereas Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior aide to Ukraine’s president, mentioned on Twitter that “the whole lot is simply starting in Russia.”

Ukraine was additionally on excessive alert after a recent barrage of Russian missiles Saturday, with casualties and injury reported in Kyiv and the central metropolis of Dnipro.

US President Joe Biden was briefed on the state of affairs in Russia and Washington “might be consulting with allies and companions on these developments,” Nationwide Safety Council spokesman Adam Hodge mentioned.

On Friday, Prigozhin mentioned Moscow’s forces had been retreating in Ukraine’s east and south following the beginning of Kyiv’s counteroffensive early this month. That immediately contradicted Putin’s account that Ukraine was struggling “catastrophic” losses and that there was a lull in preventing.

Questioning Army Operation

After years of working within the shadows, Prigozhin finally admitted to operating the elusive mercenary group Wagner and even interfering in US elections.

His forces, bolstered by tens of hundreds of jail recruits, performed a central position in Russia’s seize of Bakhmut within the longest and bloodiest battle of the battle.

Nonetheless, this week he accused Moscow’s high brass of deceiving Russians in regards to the offensive in Ukraine.

“Why did the particular army operation start?” he mentioned. “The warfare was wanted for the self-promotion of a bunch of bastards.”