Yevgeny Prigozhin ‘s fight with the Russian military has caused alarm in Putin’s Russia….
This internal conflict has been going on since the Ukraine/Russian conflict started….
The Wagner Group forces helped the Russian’s take over most of Bakhmut….Then left…..
One would think attacks on a soveriegn country’s military from WITHIN could be seen as move to take over a government…
Police and soliders in the Russian capital of Moscow have gone to the streets….
The Wagner boss says he has captured one city….
Wagner wants to take over control of the Russian military high command…..
Will the Ukraine forces move to take advantage of this internal military and political conflict?
Russian generals late on Friday accused Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, the outspoken mercenary tycoon, of trying to mount a coup against President Vladimir V. Putin, as the Russian authorities opened an investigation into Mr. Prigozhin for “organizing an armed rebellion.”
The long-running feud between Mr. Prigozhin and the Russian military over the war in Ukraine has now escalated into an open confrontation, setting up the biggest challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority since he launched his invasion of Ukraine 16 months ago.
Videos circulating widely on social media showed that military and national guard armored vehicles had been deployed in Moscow and the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, near the front line in Ukraine where Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters had been operating.
Mr. Prigozhin on Friday accused the Russian military of attacking his Wagner mercenary forces and, in a series of recordings posted to social media, pledged that his fighters would retaliate. Russian authorities, in turn, accused Mr. Prigozhin — whose broadsides against the Russian Defense Ministry had been tolerated by Mr. Putin for months — of trying to foment a revolt.
“This is a stab in the back of the country and the president,” Gen. Vladimir Alekseyev, the deputy head of Russia’s military intelligence agency, said in a video appeal to Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters, urging them to call off any rebellion. “This is a coup.”
Mr. Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary force has proved pivotal to the Russian war effort in Ukraine, but in recent months, he repeatedly chastised Russia’s top brass for alleged corruption and indifference to regular soldiers’ lives. On Friday night, he took his accusations to a new level, claiming that the Russian military had attacked Wagner encampments, killing “a huge number of fighters.”
“The evil borne by the country’s military leadership must be stopped,” Mr. Prigozhin said in one of a series of voice recordings posted to the Telegram social network after 9 p.m. Moscow time.
Minutes later, he suggested that his Wagner mercenary force was prepared to go on the offensive against Russia’s own Defense Ministry, saying, “There’s 25,000 of us, and we are going to figure out why chaos is happening in the country.”
He denied that the actions were a “military coup.”….
The string of statements marked an unprecedented escalation of infighting among Russia’s elite, which has pitted Prigozhin against defence minister Sergei Shoigu and senior military commanders.
The FSB urged Wagner fighters “not to make irreparable mistakes, to stop any forceful actions against the Russian people, not to carry out the criminal and treacherous orders of Prigozhin, and to take measures to detain him”.
In a separate statement, prosecutors said that Prigozhin could face between 12 and 20 years in prison.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, said the Russian president was “aware of the situation unfolding around Prigozhin”.
“All necessary measures are being taken,” Russian state media quoted Peskov saying.
Early on Saturday, Prigozhin released another voice message in which he claimed without offering any evidence that his forces had left Ukraine and were entering the southern Russian city of Rostov.
“Right now we have crossed all the border points… The border guards greeted us and hugged our fighters. Now we are entering Rostov,” he said. “If anyone gets in our way, we will destroy everything… We extend our hand to everyone. We move forward, we are going all the way!”
According to several Telegram channels linked to security services, emergency protocols were earlier implemented the city, involving the full mobilisation of the local security services.
Pictures published by local media showed armour vehicles appearing on the streets of the city. Baza, a Telegram channel linked to Russian security services, reported that helicopters were seen flying over Rostov.
It was not immediately clear what Prigozhin’s objectives were and whether his threats were directed at the Kremlin….
The Russian Ministry of Defense said early Saturday that Kyiv is concentrating several brigades for an offensive in the Bakhmut direction, taking advantage of Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s “provocation.”
“Taking advantage of Prigozhin’s provocation to disrupt the situation, the Kyiv regime is concentrating units of the 35th Marine Brigade and the 36th Mechanised Brigade of the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine) in Bakhmut tactical direction at the initial line for offensive actions,” the defense ministry said in a statement.
Russia says its forces are fighting back.
“The servicemen of the Yug Group of Forces are defeating the enemy with air and artillery strikes,” it said….
Lt. Gen. Vladimir Alekseev, a Russian intelligence official, also posted a video criticizing Wagner’s actions on Friday, saying “This is a coup d’etat.”“What is happening now is a blatant fact of insanity. I cannot explain it in other words,” Alekseev said in the video.
“Our country is in the most difficult position right now,” he continued. “When the whole Western world is turned against us. When the shells are coming from the whole world. Such things, that you started to fulfill now under someone’s provocation idea will lead to enormous losses. First of all, enormous political losses. Imagine the enthusiasm that this will be taken with by the West.”
“Only the president has the right to appoint the top leadership of the armed forces, and you are trying to encroach on his authority. This is a coup d’etat. There is no need to do this now, because there is no greater damage to the image of Russia and to its armed forces,” Alekseev said. …
The White House is “monitoring the situation” in Russia following threats from Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin against Russia’s military leadership, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.
President Joe Biden has also been briefed on the developing situation in Russia, National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge said.
“We are monitoring the situation and will be consulting with allies and partners on these developments,” Hodge said in a statement.
Officials view Prigozhin’s latest comments — in which he called Russia’s military leadership “evil” and said they “must be stopped” — as something more than his usual rhetoric, a US official told CNN. And unlike some of Prigozhin’s previous statements about Russian defense ministry ineptitude, these comments do not appear to have followed a Ukrainian military breakthrough or tactical success.
“This is real,” said the official, though it’s unclear if the US has any expectations about how or what Prigozhin intends following his calls for Russian citizens to stay in their homes….
@AWeissmann_Recall, PRIGOZHIN, as a close ally of Putin, is under indictment in DC in a case brought by Special Counsel Mueller for his work with the Internet Research Agency to illegally interfere in the U.S. 2016 election to help the Trump campaign.