Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner PMC, has accused the Russian Ministry of Defense of launching a strike on the mercenary camp. In a fiery statement, posted on Friday evening, June 23, via his Telegram channel, Prigozhin expressed his outrage and vowed to put an end to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu's actions.
“A missile strike was launched on the camps of the Wagner PMC. Many victims. According to the eyewitness fighters, the blow was struck from the rear side, that is, it was inflicted by the military of the Russian Defense Ministry,” Prigozhin said.
The businessman-turned-mercenary claimed that a significant number of fighters were killed in the attack and asserted that the Wagner PMC would soon decide on their course of action in response to what he called an “atrocity.”
“We were viciously deceived and they tried to deprive us of the opportunity to defend our homes. We were ready to make concessions to the Defense Ministry, hand over our weapons, and find a solution to how we would continue to defend the country.
“But these scum did not calm down. Today, seeing that we are not broken, they launched rocket attacks on our rear camps,” Prigozhin said.
“This creature will be stopped,” Prigozhin said of Shoigu.
The Russian Ministry of Defense swiftly responded to Prigozhin’s allegations, declaring that the messages and video footage attributed to him were a deliberate information provocation and did not correspond to reality.
“All the messages and video footage distributed on social networks on behalf of Yevgeny Prigozhin about the alleged strike by the Russian Defense Ministry on the ‘rear camps of the Wagner PMCs’ do not correspond to reality and are an information provocation,” stated the Ministry of Defense.
According to RIA Novosti, the Ministry of Defense reiterated that the armed forces of the Russian Federation continue to carry out combat missions along the Ukrainian front as part of a “special military operation,” as the Kremlin terms it.
Just thirty minutes after his initial statement regarding the strike on the mercenary camp, Prigozhin recorded another audio message alleging that Shoigu had fled from Rostov-on-Don.
“Shoigu has just cowardly escaped from Rostov. At 21:00 he ran cowardly, like a woman. In order not to explain why he raised helicopters to destroy our guys, why he launched missile strikes. This creature will be stopped,” Prigozhin said.
Prigozhin called on all residents of Russia to join him in his cause, to rally to his support.
“There are 25 thousand of us, and we are going to figure out why lawlessness is happening in the country. 25 thousand are expected as a tactical reserve, and the strategic reserve is the whole army and the whole country. Everyone who wants to join us. We need to end this mess,” Prigozhin said.
In a previous statement, Prigozhin had declared his intention to “restore justice” within the military and throughout Russia. He issued a warning that resistance would be met with immediate destruction, including any roadblocks encountered along their path. Prigozhin urged people to remain calm, avoid provocation, and stay indoors.
“This is not a military coup. This is a march of justice. Our actions do not interfere with the troops in any way,” Wagner Chief added.
Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has confirmed that President Putin is aware of the situation concerning Yevgeny Prigozhin. Peskov assured the public that appropriate measures 'are being taken in response.'
“President Putin has been briefed on all developments surrounding Prigozhin. The necessary steps are being taken,” Peskov stated.
Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation has reported that the case against Prigozhin was "lawfully and reasonably" initiated under Article 279 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which pertains to armed rebellion. His actions will receive a proper legal assessment.
In response, the FSB Central Control Center has announced the initiation of a criminal case due to the gravity of the situation and the potential escalation of confrontation within the Russian Federation.
According to RIA Novosti, the FSB Central Control Center has characterized Prigozhin's statements and actions as calls for an armed civil conflict on Russian territory, describing them as a "stab in the back" to Russian servicemen.
The "Fortress" plan has allegedly been announced in several police departments of the Rostov region, Russian media reported.
The "Fortress" plan implies an emergency gathering of personnel and taking control of significant objects of law enforcement agencies. The program also provides for readiness to repel an external attack.
Footage published by local media appeared to show military and police vehicles in the center of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, where Prigozhin claimed Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu is located.
Ростов-на-Дону. Інформаційної тиші не буде. pic.twitter.com/X8sGYQCAl7— Daniel Broomfield 🇺🇦🇬🇧 (@Brooms1989) June 23, 2023
Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russia's aerospace forces, has urged the head of the Wagner mercenary group to call off efforts to remove the leadership of Moscow's defence ministry, the latest escalation of a long-running dispute.
"I urge you to stop. The enemy is just waiting for the internal political situation to worsen in our country. Before it is too late, it is necessary and it is needed to obey the will and order of the popularly elected President of the Russian Federation," Sergei Surovikin said in a highly unusual video address.
In Moscow, following the announcement by Yevgeny Prigozhin, security measures were severely enhanced. TASS reported, citing a law enforcement source, that "all vital facilities, public authorities, and transportation infrastructure have been placed under high protection."
The agency stated that riot police and SOBR units were put on alert. Residents of the city have reported the presence of armored vehicles on the streets.
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