Prigozhin halts movement of Wagner forces in Russia after Belarus brokers deal – Russia-Ukraine war live

Prigozhin halts movement of Wagner forces in Russia after Belarus brokers deal – Russia-Ukraine war live

Here is a summary of the events so far:

  • According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kyiv has liberated territories near the city of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk region, which have been occupied by pro-Russia separatists since 2014, during the Wagner mutiny in Russia.

  • The governor of Russia’s Lipetsk province says the Wagner mercenary group has entered the region, AP reports. The Lipetsk region is about 360km (225 miles) south of Moscow and much closer to the capital than Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner forces appeared during the night.

  • There have been numerous reports that Vladimir Putin’s presidential plane took off from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 2.16pm local time (1216 BST) and then headed north-west. It has not been possible to confirm whether Putin was on the plane and his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has told the Tass news agency the president is “working in the Kremlin”.

  • Large amounts of cash were found during a raid on Prigozhin’s office, he has reportedly confirmed. Russian media had reported that money was found at the St Petersburg address, something Prigozhin has now confirmed, according to Reuters.

  • The UK government will hold an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the situation in Russia, Reuters reports.

The office of the Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko, just announced that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has accepted a proposal to “stop the movement of armed persons of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and take further steps to de-escalate tensions”, the president’s office said, with similar reporting in Russian news outlets.

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The statement said that Vladimir Putin briefed Lukashenko in the morning and, with his approval, Lukashenko held negotiating talks with Prigozhin.

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“Negotiations continued throughout the day. As a result, they came to agreements on the inadmissibility of unleashing a bloody massacre on the territory of Russia,” the statement read.

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Wagner and Prigozhin have not commented on the negotiations.

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The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, has said in a statement that Moscow residents should refrain from trips around the city as far as possible given a counter-terrorism operation has been declared and said the situation was “difficult”, Reuters reports.

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Sobyanin also said in the statement, released on Telegram, that Monday would be a “non-working day” in order “to minimise risks”.

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    n

  • According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kyiv has liberated territories near the city of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk region, which have been occupied by pro-Russia separatists since 2014, during the Wagner mutiny in Russia.

  • n

  • The governor of Russia’s Lipetsk province says the Wagner mercenary group has entered the region, AP reports. The Lipetsk region is about 360km (225 miles) south of Moscow and much closer to the capital than Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner forces appeared during the night.

  • n

  • There have been numerous reports that Vladimir Putin’s presidential plane took off from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 2.16pm local time (1216 BST) and then headed north-west. It has not been possible to confirm whether Putin was on the plane and his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has told the Tass news agency the president is “working in the Kremlin”.

  • n

  • Large amounts of cash were found during a raid on Prigozhin’s office, he has reportedly confirmed. Russian media had reported that money was found at the St Petersburg address, something Prigozhin has now confirmed, according to Reuters.

  • n

  • The UK government will hold an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the situation in Russia, Reuters reports.

  • n

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According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kyiv has liberated territories near the city of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk region, which have been occupied by pro-Russia separatists since 2014.

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Oleksandr Tarnavsky, commander of the Tavria operational strategic grouping, spoke to the national news agency of Ukraine, Ukrinform.

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“The movement of our forces continues,” Tarnavsky wrote on Telegram on Saturday. “There are tangible successes and progress.”

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The Guardian cannot independently verify the claims.

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The governor of Russia’s Lipetsk province says the Wagner mercenary group has entered the region, AP reports.

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The Lipetsk region is about 360km (225 miles) south of Moscow and much closer to the capital than Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner forces appeared during the night.

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Authorities “are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of the population. The situation is under control,” the governor, Igor Artamonov, said on Telegram. He did not give details about the Wagner presence.

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Authorities in the area, which is in Russia’s south-west, earlier urged residents to stay at home on Saturday after the Wagner group vowed to take up arms to topple the country’s military leadership.

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Wagner forces are already in control of Rostov after an overnight rebellion. It appears they have now travelled about 500 miles north as they barrel towards Moscow.

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Reuters journalists earlier saw troop carriers and a flatbed truck carrying a tank careening past the city of Voronezh more than halfway to Moscow, where a helicopter fired on them. But there were no reports of the rebels meeting any substantial resistance on the highway.

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There have been numerous reports that Vladimir Putin’s presidential plane took off from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 2.16pm local time (1216 BST) and then headed north-west.

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According to data from the FlightRadar tracking website, the plane reached the Tver area – about 110 miles from Moscow and where Putin has a residence – before disappearing from the system.

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It has not been possible to confirm whether Putin was on the plane and his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has told the Tass news agency the president is “working in the Kremlin”.

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Meanwhile, Iranian state media quoted the foreign ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani on Saturday as saying Iran supports the rule of law in the Russian Federation and considers the latest developments there an internal Russian matter.

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Large amounts of cash were found during a raid on Prigozhin’s office, he has reportedly confirmed.

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Russian media had reported that money was found at the St Petersburg address, something Prigozhin has now confirmed, according to Reuters.

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He has said the money was for Wagner expenses, it reports.

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Russian state media has also reported that Vladimir Putin has held a call with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who expressed support for the current Russian leadership, they claim.

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A security council statement from Belarus has also said that country remains an ally of Russia and that internal disputes are a “gift to the collective west”.

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The UK government will hold an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the situation in Russia, Reuters reports.

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The emergency meeting comes as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said No 10 was keeping a close eye on the situation evolving on the ground and had plans to speak with international allies later today.

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Earlier today, Sunak told the BBC: “But the most important thing I’d say is for all parties to be responsible and to protect civilians, and that’s about as much as I can say at this moment.”

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Russian army helicopters have opened fire on a Wagner military convoy on the M4 highway outside the southern city of Voronezh, Reuters reports, citing a witness.

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The Guardian has not independently verified this claim.

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Ukraine’s foreign minister has called on the international community to “abandon false neutrality” and give his country the weapons it needs to “put an end to the evil” of Putin’s regime.

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Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Those who said Russia was too strong to lose: look now.

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“Time to abandon false neutrality and fear of escalation; give Ukraine all the needed weapons; forget about friendship or business with Russia. Time to put an end to the evil everyone despised but was too afraid to tear down.”

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Those who said Russia was too strong to lose: look now. Time to abandon false neutrality and fear of escalation; give Ukraine all the needed weapons; forget about friendship or business with Russia. Time to put an end to the evil everyone despised but was too afraid to tear down.

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) June 24, 2023

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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has said “no lie can hide” Russia’s chaos and said the armed mutiny showed “full-scale weakness” in the country.

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Posting on Twitter, Zelenskiy said: “Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself. Who sends columns of troops to destroy the lives of another country and cannot stop them from fleeing and betraying when life resists.

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“Who terrorizes with missiles, and when they are shot down, humiliates himself to receive Shahed drones. Who despises people and throws hundreds of thousands into the war, in order to eventually barricade himself in the Moscow region from those whom he himself armed.

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“For a long time, Russia used propaganda to mask its weakness and the stupidity of its government. And now there is so much chaos that no lie can hide it. And all this is one person, who again and again scares by the year 1917, although he is able to result in nothing else but this.

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“Russia’s weakness is obvious. Full-scale weakness. And the longer Russia keeps its troops and mercenaries on our land, the more chaos, pain, and problems it will have for itself later. It is also obvious. Ukraine is able to protect Europe from the spread of Russian evil and chaos. We keep our resilience, unity and strength.

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“All our commanders, all our soldiers know what to do. Glory to Ukraine!”

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Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself. Who sends columns of troops to destroy the lives of another country and cannot stop them from fleeing and betraying when life resists. Who terrorizes with missiles, and when they are shot down, humiliates himself to receive…

— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 24, 2023

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Commenting on Putin’s televised address, Yevgeny Prigozhin in an audio note said the president “was deeply mistaken” in calling him a traitor.

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“No one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president … We don’t want the country to continue to live in corruption and lies,” he added.

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“We are patriots, and those who are against us are the ones who gathered around the bastards,” Prigozhin said.

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The audio message marks the first time that Prigozhin has directly spoken out against the Russian president.

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The former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday called on Russians to rally around Putin.

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Yevgeny Prigozhin said the members of his Wagner group, who have launched an armed rebellion, were “ready to die”, in a message posted to Telegram on Saturday morning.

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In a string of audio messages, the leader of the mercenary fighters vowed to topple Russia’s military leadership.

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“All of us are ready to die. All 25,000, and then another 25,000,” he said. “We are dying for the Russian people.”

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He added: “We are saving Russia.”

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The Russian-installed heads of Ukrainian regions occupied by Moscow on Saturday expressed support for President Vladimir Putin as Russia faced the extraordinary mutiny.

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“The Kherson region and the people of Kherson completely support our president!”, the Russian-installed head of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said on Telegram. The Kremlin-appointed head of the part of the Zaporizhzhia region controlled by Moscow, Yevgeny Balitsky, said the territory was “with the president”.

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The UK’s Ministry of Defence has provided an update on the situation in Russia.

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The MoD said: “In the early hours of June 24 2023, the feud between Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Wagner group and the Russian MoD escalated into outright military confrontation.

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“In an operation characterised by Prigozhin as a ‘march for freedom’, Wagner group forces crossed from occupied Ukraine into Russia in at least two locations.

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“In Rostov-on-Don, Wagner has almost certainly occupied key security sites, including the HQ which runs Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

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“Further Wagner units are moving north through Vorenezh oblast, almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow. With very limited evidence of fighting between Wagner and Russian security forces, some have likely remained passive, acquiescing to Wagner.

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“Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out. This represents the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times.”

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Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 24 June 2023.

Find out more about Defence Intelligence’s use of language: https://t.co/K6An5jd2B8

🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/M3E5L0EHLB

— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) June 24, 2023

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Putin gave an emergency televised address on Saturday as the Wagner mercenary chief leads an armed rebellion:

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  • Putin said Russia was fighting “the toughest battle for its future”.

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  • He said the Wagner “armed mutiny” was a “stab in the back” to Russia. He called the rebellion treason and said anyone who had taken up arms against the Russian military would be punished.

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  • He said he would do everything to protect Russia, that the Russian armed forces “have been given the necessary orders” and that “decisive action” would be taken to stabilise the situation.

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  • Putin said: “I will do everything possible to defend my country … And those who have organised an armed rebellion will be held accountable. Those who have been drawn into this, I call on you to stop your criminal actions.”

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  • He also told viewers: “Personal interests have led to the betrayal of our country and the cause that our armed forces are fighting.”

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Vladimir Putin has begun a televised address to the Russian nation, saying he is fighting for the life and security of his people and the country needs unity of all its forces.

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If you’re just joining us, here’s a roundup of the latest major developments as Russian authorities accuse mercenary force leader Yevgeny Prigozhin of trying to start a “civil conflict”.

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  • The head of the Wagner mercenary group claims to have seized control of all military sites in the city of Rostov-on-Don and demanded that Russia’s military leadership come to him after accusing them of killing his forces. In videos posted on social media early on Saturday, Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed he was at the headquarters of the southern military district in Rostov and demanded that defence minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s top general Valery Gerasimov come to the city, 1,000km south of Moscow. The videos could not be verified.

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  • Russian president Vladimir Putin will give a televised address soon, the Tass news agency cited the Kremlin as saying. Earlier, a spokesperson for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, had said only that the president was receiving round-the-clock updates and that “all necessary measures are being taken”.

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  • Russia’s defence ministry said in a statement addressed to Wagner fighters that they had been “deceived and dragged into a criminal adventure” by Prigozhin. In a statement posted on Telegram, the ministry urged them to contact its representatives and those of law enforcement services, and promised to guarantee their security.

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    n

  • Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin said anti-terrorist measures were being taken in the Russian capital, including additional checks on roads, to reinforce security. Authorities also said the M4 motorway, connecting Moscow with the south, was closed to traffic at the border with the Voronezh region due to the movement of a military convoy.

  • n

  • Russia’s FSB security service has opened a criminal case for armed mutiny against Prigozhin after the mercenary chief accused the Russian military of targeting his forces and vowed to “destroy” his rivals. In an extraordinary series of audio clips released late on Friday, Prigozhin claimed that a rocket attack in the Russian region of Rostov had killed scores of his fighters, vowing to take “revenge” and “stop the evil brought by the military leadership of the country”.

  • n

  • The FSB said Prigozhin’s statements and actions were “in fact a call to start an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab in the back to Russian servicemen fighting pro-fascist Ukrainian forces”. It 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”.

  • n

  • Early on Saturday, Prigozhin released another voice message in which he claimed, without offering 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!”

  • n

  • Gen Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, released a video address ordering the mercenaries to remain loyal to Putin. “I urge you to stop,” said Surovikin, who was previously understood to be close to Prigozhin. “The enemy is just waiting for the internal political situation to worsen in our country.”

  • n

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    n

  • Earlier on Friday, Prigozhin had accused Moscow’s leadership of lying to the public about the justifications for invading Ukraine. He dismissed Moscow’s claims that Kyiv was planning to launch an offensive on the Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine in February 2022. Prigozhin said: “The ministry of defence is trying to deceive the public and the president and spin the story that there was insane levels of aggression from the Ukrainian side and that they were going to attack us together with the whole Nato block.”

  • n

  • A senior aide to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy described Prigozhin’s actions as a “counter-terrorist operation” and said that “everything is just beginning in Russia”. “The split between the elites is too obvious. Agreeing and pretending that everything is settled won’t work,” Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. “Someone must definitely lose: either Prigozhin … or the collective ‘anti-Prygozhin’,”

  • n

  • The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces has confirmed for the first time that the main force of his offensive reserve is yet to be committed into battle with Russia, saying: “Everything is still ahead.” In an exclusive interview with the Guardian from a military base in east Ukraine, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi said the Russian general staff had anticipated where Ukraine’s forces were at their most dangerous but issued a warning to the Kremlin that he was hunting down the lethal weakness in their lines.

  • n

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The Russian ministry of defence is telling Wagner fighters they were “deceived and dragged into a criminal adventure”, the state news agency RIA has reported, according to Reuters.

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The ministry called on the Wagner mercenaries to contact its representatives and those of law enforcement services, the Tass news agency reported.

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The ministry said it would guarantee their security.

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Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will give a televised address soon, the Tass news agency has cited the Kremlin as saying.

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Yevgeny Prigozhin says in a new video message that all military sites in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don are under the Wagner mercenary group’s control, Reuters is reporting.

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The Wagner chief also says in the video, which was posted to Telegram, that he and his men are in the southern district military headquarters in Rostov-on-Don.

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Prigozhin says that does not impede Russia’s conduct of what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

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The Guardian has not been able to verify his claims.

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The Rostov region’s governor has urged residents not to travel into Rostov-on-Don’s city centre and to avoid leaving their homes if possible.

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Vasily Golubev posted on Telegram that law enforcement agencies were doing “everything necessary to ensure the safety of residents in the area”.

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He said he had given “the necessary instructions to the Rostov city administration and the life support services of Rostov to take the necessary measures to preserve the normal functioning of all city systems”.

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n

I keep the issue under control, regularly listening to reports.

n

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Videos posted on local Rostov-on-Don Telegram channels early on Saturday showed armed men in uniform skirting the city’s regional police headquarters, belonging to the interior ministry. Reuters reported it was not immediately clear who the armed men were.

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Moscow’s mayor says anti-terrorist measures are being taken to reinforce security in the Russian capital.

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Sergei Sobyanin said the city was also introducing additional checks on roads, Reuters reports.

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Videos posted on Russian local Rostov-on-Don Telegram channels early on Saturday showed armed men in uniform skirting the city’s regional police headquarters, belonging to the interior ministry.

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Reuters reports it was not immediately clear who the armed men were. The news agency was able to verify the location as the police headquarters building, but not to determine when the video was shot.

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Authorities in southern Russian regions had said measures were being taken to ensure public safety after Yevgeny Prigozhin indicated he planned to despatch men to Moscow to oust the military leadership.

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Yevgeny Prigozhin’s apparent armed rebellion against the leadership of the Russian ministry of defence is “unlikely to succeed” and he may have “wildly miscalculated”, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has said in its latest analysis of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The Wagner leader may have thought he would have the backing of Russian president Vladimir Putin, the US thinktank wrote, but that was “extraordinarily unlikely” considering Putin had recently aligned himself more firmly with the Russian defence ministry.

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Another possibility was that Prizgozhin’s actions and statements were “a rhetorical overreach in his ongoing dispute with the MoD and his campaign to retain his wavering influence within the Russian information space following the culmination of Wagner’s Bakhmut effort”, it said.

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n

However, this contingency is also highly unlikely, as initial indicators of actual Wagner movements are observable and the Kremlin is not responding to Prigozhin’s statements as only rhetoric.

n

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NEW: #Wagner Group financier Yevgeny #Prigozhin appears to have launched an armed rebellion on June 23 to force a leadership change within the #Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) which is unlikely to succeed.🧵 (1/13)https://t.co/qllyOvtpBR pic.twitter.com/XXCaTeTCD5

— ISW (@TheStudyofWar) June 24, 2023

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Ukrainian authorities reported explosions in the capital, Kyiv, and the eastern city of Kharkiv early on Saturday, with the country going on high alert in the face of new Russian missile strikes.

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“Explosions are heard in Kharkiv,” mayor Igor Terekhov wrote on social media, while authorities in Kyiv said air defence systems were operating.

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Agence France-Presse also reports that Kyiv’s mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said there were explosions in the city’s western Solomiansky district.

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“Fragments of a rocket hit a parking lot,” he wrote on social media, adding that emergency services were on the scene.

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Separately, the Ukrainian air force reported missiles heading in the direction of the northern regions of Sumy and Poltava and the central city of Dnipro.

“,”elementId”:”d46cc5a0-d23c-4400-af10-a6eb2f588580″}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1687571619000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”21.53 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1687572185000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”22.03 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1687571863000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”21.57 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”21.57″,”title”:”Blasts reported in Kyiv and Kharkiv”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sat 24 Jun 2023 13.50 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Fri 23 Jun 2023 18.12 EDT”},{“id”:”64963dbc8f08657ec7321f12″,”elements”:[{[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Here’s an overview of all the latest major developments:

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    n

  • Russia’s FSB security service has opened a criminal case for armed mutiny against Yevgeny Prigozhin after the head of the Wagner mercenary group accused the Russian military of targeting his forces and vowed to “destroy” his rivals. In an extraordinary series of audio clips released late on Friday, Prigozhin claimed that a rocket attack in the Russian region of Rostov had killed scores of his fighters, vowing to take “revenge” and “stop the evil brought by the military leadership of the country”.

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    n

  • The FSB said Prigozhin’s statements and actions were “in fact a call to start an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab in the back to Russian servicemen fighting pro-fascist Ukrainian forces”. It 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”.

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  • 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!”

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  • Prigozhin claimed in an audio message that Wagner shot down a Russian helicopter that opened fire on the convoy near Rostov. He did not provide evidence.

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  • Security measures have been strengthened in Moscow, with critical facilities taken under increased protection, Russian state news agency Tass reported, citing law enforcement agencies. Unconfirmed footage also appeared to show military vehicles on the streets of the Russian capital.

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    n

  • Emergency protocols were also implemented in the city of Rostov, involving the full mobilisation of the local security services, according to several Telegram channels linked to security service. Pictures published by local media showed armour vehicles appearing on the streets. Baza, a Telegram channel linked to Russian security services, reported that helicopters were seen flying over Rostov.

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  • Gen Sergei Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, released a video address ordering the mercenaries to remain loyal to Putin. “I urge you to stop,” said Surovikin, who was previously understood to be close to Prigozhin. “The enemy is just waiting for the internal political situation to worsen in our country.”

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  • Russian president Vladimir Putin was getting round-the-clock updates from all relevant state security agencies on the measures being taken to thwart an attempted armed mutiny, Tass reported. “All necessary measures are being taken,” Russian state media quoted Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov as saying.

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  • Earlier on Friday, Prigozhin had accused Moscow’s leadership of lying to the public about the justifications for invading Ukraine. He dismissed Moscow’s claims that Kyiv was planning to launch an offensive on the Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine in February 2022, saying: “The ministry of defence is trying to deceive the public and the president and spin the story that there was insane levels of aggression from the Ukrainian side and that they were going to attack us together with the whole Nato block.”

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  • The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces has confirmed for the first time that the main force of his offensive reserve is yet to be committed into battle with Russia, saying: “Everything is still ahead.” In an exclusive interview with the Guardian from a military base in east Ukraine, Col Gen Oleksandr Syrskyi said the Russian general staff had anticipated where Ukraine’s forces were at their most dangerous but issued a warning to the Kremlin that he was hunting down the lethal weakness in their lines.

  • n

“,”elementId”:”ca42f2d5-815c-47e0-ac68-e96663989abc”}],”attributes”:{“pinned”:false,”keyEvent”:true,”summary”:false},”blockCreatedOn”:1687567804000,”blockCreatedOnDisplay”:”20.50 EDT”,”blockLastUpdated”:1687571512000,”blockLastUpdatedDisplay”:”21.51 EDT”,”blockFirstPublished”:1687570912000,”blockFirstPublishedDisplay”:”21.41 EDT”,”blockFirstPublishedDisplayNoTimezone”:”21.41″,”title”:”Summary”,”contributors”:[],”primaryDateLine”:”Sat 24 Jun 2023 13.50 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Fri 23 Jun 2023 18.12 EDT”},{“id”:”649642148f08657ec7321f2e”,”elements”:[{[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Prigozhin claimed in an audio message that Wagner shot down a Russian helicopter that opened fire on the convoy near the southern city of Rostov.

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He did not provide evidence to support the claim.

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Earlier, locals in Rostov reported that military helicopters were flying over the city.

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claims his forces have downed Russian helicopter”,”contributors”:[{[{“name”:”Pjotr Sauer”,”imageUrl”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2022/02/19/Pjotr-Sauer.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=5e94605ee9e725016f80edcf3bdf7ca8″}],”primaryDateLine”:”Sat 24 Jun 2023 13.50 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Fri 23 Jun 2023 18.12 EDT”},{“id”:”64963f118f08657ec7321f15″,”elements”:[{[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

The governor of Russia’s southern Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, has told its citizens to remain calm and stay indoors, Reuters reports.

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Russian authorities have accused Yevgeny Prigozhin of trying to start a “civil conflict” and called for his detention.

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Agence France-Presse reports that the FSB security service’s probe into calls to stage an “armed mutiny” came after the head of the Wagner mercenary group accused Moscow of targeting his forces with deadly missile strikes and vowed to retaliate.

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Prigozhin urged Russians to join his forces and punish Moscow’s military leadership in the most audacious challenge to President Vladimir Putin since the start of the offensive in Ukraine last year.

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In a statement, the FSB said:

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n

Prigozhin’s statements and actions are in fact a call to start an armed civil conflict on the territory of the Russian Federation and a stab in the back to Russian servicemen fighting pro-fascist Ukrainian forces.

n

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The FSB urged Wagner fighters to “take measures to detain him”.

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The Kremlin said Putin had been informed of Prigozhin’s claims and “necessary measures are being taken”.

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This is Adam Fulton taking over the blog from Abené Clayton.

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Prigozhin released another voice message in which he claimed his forces were entering the southern Russian city of Rostov.

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He said:

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n

Right now we have crossed all the border points … The border guards greeted us and hugged our fighters. Now we are entering Rostov.

n

If anyone gets in our way, we will destroy everything … We extend our hand to everyone, but don’t spit in it. We move forward, we are going to the end!

n

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Prigozhin said that those who opened a criminal case against him had “no feeling” and understood nothing but “treachery”.

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There has been no video footage that would confirm Wagner’s alleged movements.

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claims forces are entering Rostov”,”contributors”:[{[{“name”:”Pjotr Sauer”,”imageUrl”:”https://i.guim.co.uk/img/uploads/2022/02/19/Pjotr-Sauer.jpg?width=300&quality=85&auto=format&fit=max&s=5e94605ee9e725016f80edcf3bdf7ca8″}],”primaryDateLine”:”Sat 24 Jun 2023 13.50 EDT”,”secondaryDateLine”:”First published on Fri 23 Jun 2023 18.12 EDT”},{“id”:”64962b4d8f08657ec7321eb4″,”elements”:[{[{“_type”:”model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TextBlockElement”,”html”:”

Following accusations of an armed mutiny in Russia, the White House national security council say they are monitoring the situation, and will be consulting with allies and partners on developments, Reuters reports.

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This is Abené Clayton, contributing to the live blog from Los Angeles.

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Vladimir Putin has yet to make a public statement about the situation with Prigozhin but has “has been informed about all events,” an anchor for State-run Channel 1 said at the end of a news bulletin.

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Michael McFaul, a former ambassador to Russia described Putin’s absence as “striking,” in a tweet.

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The absence of Putin so far in this crisis is striking. Imagine military vehicles cruising around in downtown DC and Biden saying nothing.

— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) June 23, 2023

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Russian security services have moved swiftly against the Wagner boss,
denouncing Prigozhin for “treachery” and ordering the mercenary
group’s fighters to detain their commander.

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The defence ministry also published videos with several senior
military generals who urged Prigozhin to stop what one commander
described as a “coup.”

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“This is a stab in the back of the country and the president,” general
Vladimir Alekseyev, the deputy head of Russia’s military intelligence
agency, said in a video appeal to Wagner fighters “This is a coup,”
Alekseyev added.

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It was not immediately clear if Prigozhin was acting alone. In one
audio message, the warlord claimed to have the support of “the
majority of the army” as well as 25,000 Wagner fighters.

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But Prigozhin for now appears isolated, with several former allies
denouncing his rebellion. General Sergei Surovikin, the deputy
commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, who is believed to be close to
Prigozhin, released a video address ordering the mercenaries to remain
loyal to Putin.

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“The termination of Prigozhin and Wagner is imminent. The only
possibility now is absolute obliteration, with the degree of
resistance from the Wagner group being the only variable,” wrote
Tatyana Stanovaya, the founder of the political analysis firm R
Politik

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“Surovikin was dispatched to convince them to surrender. Confrontation
seems totally futile,” she added.

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While there was no immediate sign that Vladimir Putin’s hold on power
appeared threatened, Stanovaya argued that the dramatic episode will
likely damage his standing.

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“Many within the elite will now personally fault Putin for letting the
situation escalate to such extremes and for his lack of a timely
adequate response.”

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The deputy commander of Russia’s Ukraine campaign, general Sergei Surovikin, told Wagner fighters to obey president Vladimir Putin, accept Moscow’s commanders and return to their bases.

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He said political deterioration would play into the hands of Russia’s enemies.

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“I urge you to stop,” Surovikin said in a video posted on Telegram, his right hand resting on a rifle.

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Here is a profile from January of Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former hotdog seller who founded the Wagner group.

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n

Now, Prigozhin’s increasingly brazen criticism has led some to wonder where the ceiling of his ambitions might be.

n

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“People from the FSB are furious about him and see him as a threat to the constitutional order,” said a source in the Russian political elite. “He has this big military group not controlled by the state, and after the war they will want their rewards, including political rewards.”

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Others wonder if Prigozhin may have gone too far. His repeated raging at the defence ministry for trying to “steal” his victory in Soledar has at times sounded more like weakness than strength. After all, insiders say Wagner relies on logistics and intelligence support from the ministry of defence to continue its fighting, and Prigozhin relies on Putin’s continued favour to operate at all.

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The businessman who knew Prigozhin back in the 1990s, looking at his old associate today, was certain of one thing: Prigozhin does not have an off switch.

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“He understands that many hate him in the system … so he knows that if he stops, it could be the end for him. He has no choice. He cannot reverse.”

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Russia said it would prosecute mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin for alleged armed mutiny.

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Russia’s FSB security service has urged Wagner Group fighters not to carry out criminal and traitorous orders at Prigozhin’s request and to take steps to apprehend him.

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Local agencies carried a statement where the security service said the mercenary chief’s remarks amount to a call to start armed civil conflict in Russia, Sky News reported.

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FSB calls on Wagner to ignore Prigozhin’s criminal orders and to assist in his apprehension. Multiple generals making videos calling on them to do the same

Armored vehicles are observed on the streets of Moscow pic.twitter.com/DB7yfcVzy2

— Dmitri Alperovitch (@DAlperovitch) June 23, 2023

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Security was stepped up on Friday night at government buildings, transport facilities and other key locations in Moscow, the state news agency TASS reported, citing a source at a security service.

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Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner mercenary group, has accused Russian military leaders of targeting his troops.

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He said the attack happened after he criticised the country’s top brass on the Telegram messaging app.

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In a video, he had said the Kremlin’s rationale for invading Ukraine was based on lies and the “evil” of Russia’s military leadership must be stopped.

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Prigozhin has since claimed the country’s defence ministry ordered a rocket strike on Wagner’s field camps in Ukraine which has killed scores of his fighters.

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He warned his troops will move to punish defence minister Sergei Shoigu and urged the army not to offer resistance.

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Prigozhin said: “This is not an armed rebellion, but a march of justice.”

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The Russian defence ministry has described the allegations made by Prigozhin as “untrue and an informational provocation”.

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According to the TASS news agency, president Vladimir Putin has been made aware of the latest developments, and “necessary measures are being taken”.

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Key events

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Here’s a look at Yevgeny Prigozhin’s full statement on pulling back his mercenaries, made via audio message:

Prigozhin just now: “They wanted to disband Wagner. We set out on June 23 for the “March of Justice”. In a day we marched just short of 200 km from Moscow. During this time, we have not shed a single drop of the blood of our fighters. Now is the moment when blood can be shed.…

— Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) June 24, 2023n”,”url”:”https://twitter.com/maryilyushina/status/1672660607211016192?s=20″,”id”:”1672660607211016192″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”b3bf922f-c987-4366-bc21-cc5daa8fd448″}}”>

Prigozhin just now: “They wanted to disband Wagner. We set out on June 23 for the “March of Justice”. In a day we marched just short of 200 km from Moscow. During this time, we have not shed a single drop of the blood of our fighters. Now is the moment when blood can be shed.…

— Mary Ilyushina (@maryilyushina) June 24, 2023

AP confirms Wagner head Yevgeny Prigozhin is halting his mercenaries moments after Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko said he brokered a de-escalation deal. In an audio message, Prigozhin said that he is stopping his troops to avoid “Russian bloodshed”.

Belarus president says Prigozhin accepted de-escalation proposal

The office of the Belarus president, Alexander Lukashenko, just announced that Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin has accepted a proposal to “stop the movement of armed persons of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and take further steps to de-escalate tensions”, the president’s office said, with similar reporting in Russian news outlets.

The statement said that Vladimir Putin briefed Lukashenko in the morning and, with his approval, Lukashenko held negotiating talks with Prigozhin.

“Negotiations continued throughout the day. As a result, they came to agreements on the inadmissibility of unleashing a bloody massacre on the territory of Russia,” the statement read.

Wagner and Prigozhin have not commented on the negotiations.

US president Joe Biden spoke with the leaders of France, Germany and the UK on Saturday as mutinous Russian mercenaries barrelled towards Moscow after seizing the southern city of Rostov overnight.

“President Biden spoke today with president Emmanuel Macron of France, chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, and prime minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom. The leaders discussed the situation in Russia. They also affirmed their unwavering support for Ukraine,” a White House readout said.

The Moscow region has suspended mass events outdoors and at educational institutions until 1 July, authorities have announced.

The decree, issued by Govenor Andrei Vorobyov, does not apply to the city itself, but the surrounding areas.

It follows the mayor of Moscow urging residents to refrain from travelling around the capital.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said on Saturday that Russia will not allow the Wagner mutiny led by Yevgeny Prigozhin to turn into a coup or a global crisis, Russia’s state news agency Tass reports.

Answering questions from journalists, Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, said the whole world would be on the brink of catastrophe if Russian nuclear weapons fell into the hands of Wagner.

“The history of mankind hasn’t yet seen the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons under control by bandits,” Medvedev said. “Such a crisis will not be limited by just one country’s borders, the world will be put on the brink of destruction.”

He added: “We won’t allow such a turn of events.”

Medvedev has frequently used hardline rhetoric since Russia sent troops into Ukraine, regularly reminding the West about Russia’s nuclear arsenal in a bid to discourage the US and its allies from ramping up weapons supplies to Kyiv.

Moscow mayor urges people to stay home

The mayor of Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin, has said in a statement that Moscow residents should refrain from trips around the city as far as possible given a counter-terrorism operation has been declared and said the situation was “difficult”, Reuters reports.

Sobyanin also said in the statement, released on Telegram, that Monday would be a “non-working day” in order “to minimise risks”.

The UK prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has said he is in touch with the UK’s allies about the Wagner mutiny, PA Media reports.

The PM urged all parties involved to protect civilian lives, as he indicated he will speak to the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and other western leaders on Saturday.

“We’re keeping a close eye on the situation, as it’s evolving on the ground as we speak,” Sunak told the BBC.

“The most important thing I’d say is for all parties to be responsible and to protect civilians, and that’s about as much as I can say at this moment.”

Asked whether he had spoken to Zelenskiy, Sunak said: “I’m in touch with our allies.

“I’ll be speaking to some of them later today, as you would expect us to be co-ordinated on a situation like this, but it is evolving as we speak.”

Here is a summary of the events so far:

  • According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kyiv has liberated territories near the city of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk region, which have been occupied by pro-Russia separatists since 2014, during the Wagner mutiny in Russia.

  • The governor of Russia’s Lipetsk province says the Wagner mercenary group has entered the region, AP reports. The Lipetsk region is about 360km (225 miles) south of Moscow and much closer to the capital than Rostov-on-Don, where Wagner forces appeared during the night.

  • There have been numerous reports that Vladimir Putin’s presidential plane took off from Moscow’s Vnukovo airport at 2.16pm local time (1216 BST) and then headed north-west. It has not been possible to confirm whether Putin was on the plane and his spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, has told the Tass news agency the president is “working in the Kremlin”.

  • Large amounts of cash were found during a raid on Prigozhin’s office, he has reportedly confirmed. Russian media had reported that money was found at the St Petersburg address, something Prigozhin has now confirmed, according to Reuters.

  • The UK government will hold an emergency Cobra meeting to discuss the situation in Russia, Reuters reports.

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday that it warned western countries against using the Wagner mercenary group’s mutiny “to achieve their Russophobic goals”, Reuters reports.

The ministry’s social media channels remain active. On Twitter, it recently shared a post by Belarus’s ministry of foreign affairs which stated its support of Russia and called the war in Ukraine a “battle for the future of the Slavic world”.

“We cannot remain aloof from the events happening in the south of Russia,” the post said.

The Russian foreign ministry also shared a video from the Russian embassy in London showing the ambassador, Andrei Kelin, discussing frozen assets in the UK.

Ukraine liberates territories near city during Wagner mutiny – reports

Lorenzo Tondo

Lorenzo Tondo

According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kyiv has liberated territories near the city of Krasnohorivka in Donetsk region, which have been occupied by pro-Russia separatists since 2014.

Oleksandr Tarnavsky, commander of the Tavria operational strategic grouping, spoke to the national news agency of Ukraine, Ukrinform.

“The movement of our forces continues,” Tarnavsky wrote on Telegram on Saturday. “There are tangible successes and progress.”

The Guardian cannot independently verify the claims.

Anti-terrorist measures have been introduced in regions that lie between Moscow and the advancing Wagner rebels.

In the Tambov region – which neighbours the Lipetsk, which Wagner forces have just entered – mass events were cancelled on Saturday, Associated Press reports.

Those events included high-school graduation parties. Russia’s education ministry said such parties were being postponed until 1 July in Moscow, the region around the capital and “a number of other regions where additional anti-terrorist measures have been introduced”.

In the capital, traffic on the Moscow River was suspended. Police officers in bulletproof vests and with machine guns were seen near the entrance of the major highway that links Moscow with Voronezh and Rostov–on-Don.

The BBC reported that improvised checkpoints have appeared at the entrances to Moscow from the south.

Footage shows garbage trucks blocking the road and police cars nearby. It also shows military vehicles.

На въездах в Москву с юга появились импровизированные блокпосты.
Дорогу перегораживают мусоровозы, рядом — машины полиции.
На кадрах также видны военные автомобили. pic.twitter.com/shkLJCd9R8

— bbcrussian (@bbcrussian) June 24, 2023″,”url”:”https://twitter.com/bbcrussian/status/1672602430180139009?s=20″,”id”:”1672602430180139009″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”a7ff1ea2-ace6-454c-ad70-2730139afa5f”}}”>

На въездах в Москву с юга появились импровизированные блокпосты.
Дорогу перегораживают мусоровозы, рядом — машины полиции.
На кадрах также видны военные автомобили. pic.twitter.com/shkLJCd9R8

— bbcrussian (@bbcrussian) June 24, 2023

Justin Trudeau said on Saturday that Canada’s incident response group would meet to discuss the latest developments in Russia as mutinous Russian mercenaries headed towards Moscow after seizing a southern city overnight.

“We’re in contact with our allies and will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the Canadian prime minister tweeted.

I have been briefed on the events unfolding in Russia. The Incident Response Group will meet today to discuss the latest developments. We’re in contact with our allies and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 24, 2023″,”url”:”https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau/status/1672609335992631297?s=20″,”id”:”1672609335992631297″,”hasMedia”:false,”role”:”inline”,”isThirdPartyTracking”:false,”source”:”Twitter”,”elementId”:”73029376-fba0-42ff-9b5d-36cc5b8c1e96″}}”>

I have been briefed on the events unfolding in Russia. The Incident Response Group will meet today to discuss the latest developments. We’re in contact with our allies and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) June 24, 2023

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