A column of vehicles from the paramilitary group is apparently advancing toward Moscow without encountering resistance. Yevgeny Prigozhin has denied a coup attempt.
Military sources reported to the Reuters news agency on Saturday that the column of vehicles from the Wagner mercenary company had reached the Voronezh region, where it had taken control of all military installations without any clashes. The eponymous city of Voronezh is located just 500 kilometers from Moscow, which seems to be the ultimate goal of the paramilitaries. Shortly before, they had occupied Rostov.
The leader of the mercenaries, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has demanded that the Russian Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the Chief of the General Staff, Valery Gerasimov, travel to Rostov, where he has been for a few hours, to speak with him. The businessman has promised to expel those responsible for the disastrous leadership of the war against Ukraine and has warned that he has 25,000 fighters “ready to die” in the mission to “restore justice” in Moscow.
For its part, the Russian Ministry of Defense has promised to “guarantee the safety” of the combatants of the paramilitary group if they distance themselves from the “criminal adventure” of their boss. Prigozhin rebelled against the General Staff, which he accused of having ordered a missile attack against a Wagner camp that would have left a high, indeterminate number of deaths.
“They were deceived.”
” They have been tricked into participating in Prigozhin’s criminal adventure,” the ministry said in a statement. “Contact representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and law enforcement agencies as quickly as possible. We guarantee the safety of each one,” he added, stating that “many” members of the Wagner group have already contacted him to ask to return to their barracks.
Prigozhin has denied an attempted coup, while the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office has opened proceedings for “organizing an armed rebellion,” which can mean between 12 and 20 years in prison. Sergei Surovikin, deputy commander of the Joint Group of Troops in Ukraine and the only one who respects Prigozhin, as he has said publicly, also said last night that the Wagner group needs to stop the columns that intend to advance towards the capital and return to their points of permanent deployment.