• Overnight. Prigozhin and his mercenary Wagner army moved out of eastern Ukraine and took control of Rostov on Don, a key Russian military planning center for its war against Ukraine, complete with an air base.

  • While returning to Russia from the front in Ukraine’s Donbas, Prigozhin says his forces shot down Russian military helicopters which were sent to attack his forces.

  • Significantly, in Russia, his entry into Rostov was not opposed by the Russian security forces.

  • Indeed, Prigozhin appears to be holding several key officers as de facto hostages and has filmed himself rebuking and humiliating them.

  • The inhabitants of Rostov appear shocked and confused. Some are openly confronting the Wagner fighters, others welcoming them.

  • Some of Prigozhin’s forces have moving towards the Russian city of Voronezh (on the road to Moscow). Some reports say Wagner troops have already taken control of the military facilities in the region while Russian sources indicate that their advance is being blocked by the Russian regular military.

  • In Moscow there are clear signs of anxiety and of the security forces being placed on high alert. On Saturday morning an "anti-terrorist operation regime" was declared in the Russian capital and the Moscow region. The capital has been effectively closed off and Monday declared a non-working day. The most affluent magnates are reported to have been flying out of Moscow in private planes to foreign destinations.

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  • Just before midday, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin delivered a TV address in which he branded Prigozhin as a “traitor” who is stabbing Russia in back “when the fate of our people is being decided.”   He called for unity, vowed to crush the revolt and not allow a civil war to occur.

  • Prigozhin promptly rejected Putin’s accusations and claimed that he and his Wagner force are the true Russian “patriots.”

  • Chechen strongman Kadyrov signaled his support for Putin by announcing that he was sending some of his Chechen fighters to take on the Wagner force in Rostov.

  • Prigozhin’s forces continued advancing northwards towards Moscow meeting some resistance from regular troops along the way. They bypassed Yelets in the Lipetsk region and are believed to be some 350 kilometers south of Moscow.

  • Putin is reported to have left Moscow by plane to one of his residences.

  • There is also panic in Minsk within the Lukashenko regime. Moscow’s Belarusian vasal has placed the security forces on full alert after Belarusian democratic leaders issued appeals today to the Belarusian people to use this opportunity to free themselves both of him and Russian control.

  • With reports of fighting around Voronezh, and elsewhere, the battle has been joined. It remains to be seen who in the critical hours ahead might support Prigozhin and who will stay loyal to Putin.

  • And while the world awaits further developments, a splendid opportunity seems to have arrived for Ukraine to unleash the full force of its planned summer counter-offensive.

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