Friday, June 14, 2024

Simmering conflict between Moscow’s military leadership and Yevgeny Prigozhin has exploded

The simmering conflict between Moscow’s military leadership and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the bombastic chief of private mercenary group Wagner, has exploded into an open insurrection that plunges Russia into renewed uncertainty and the very real threat of civil war, media reports said.

Prigozhin unleashed a new tirade against the Russian military on Friday and then marched his troops into the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Wagner’s actions “treason” and has vowed to punish those behind the “armed uprising”, CNN reported.

The dramatic turn of events began on Friday when Prigozhin openly accused Russia’s military of attacking a Wagner camp and killing a “huge amount” of his men. He vowed to retaliate with force, insinuating that his forces would “destroy” any resistance, including roadblocks and aircraft.

“There are 25,000 of us and we are going to find out why there is such chaos in the country,” he said, CNN reported.

Prigozhin later rowed back on his threat, saying his criticism of the Russian military leadership was a “march of justice” and not a coup – but by that point he appears to have already crossed a line with the Kremlin.

The crisis then deepened as Prigozhin declared his fighters had entered Russia’s Rostov region and occupied key military installations within its capital. That city, Rostov-on-Don, is the headquarters for Russia’s southern military command and home to some one million people, CNN reported.

Prigozhin released a video saying his forces would blockade Rostov-on-Don unless Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russia’s top general Valery Gerasimov come to meet him.

Prigozhin has spent months railing against Shoigu and Gerasimov who he blames for Moscow’s faltering invasion of Ukraine, CNN reported.

Hours later Putin made an address to the nation that illustrated the depth of the crisis he now confronts.

“Those who carry deliberately on a path of treason, preparing an armed rebellion when you were preparing terrorist attacks, will be punished,” he said.

The Russian President said “any internal turmoil is a deadly threat to our statehood for us as a nation; it is a blow to Russia for our people and our actions to protect our homeland. Such a threat will face a severe response”.

But Prigozhin responded, saying on Telegram that the President is “deeply mistaken”. He said his fighters are “patriots of our Motherland” and promised: “No one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else.” That marked a more direct threat to Putin that Prigozhin had typically deployed in the past, CNN reported.

20230624-181202

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular