RUSSIA/UKRAINE: Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian mercenary chief, said on Saturday that his Wagner fighters had crossed the Ukrainian border into Russia and were ready to fight “all the way” against Moscow’s troops, hours after the Kremlin accused him of leading an armed insurrection.
The FSB security service of Russia reportedly began a criminal probe against Prigozhin as a protracted standoff between him and the military’s top brass appeared to be coming to a climax. It instructed the Wagner private military company forces to defy his commands and detain him.
In an audio recording shared on Telegram, Prigozhin said that Wagner fighters had invaded Rostov in southern Russia. He threatened to kill everyone who stood in their way, along with his troops.
Prior to this, Prigozhin said—without offering any evidence—that the Russian military’s top brass had massacred a significant portion of his soldiers during an airstrike and pledged to exact revenge. He stated that his activities weren’t a military takeover.
However, he seemed to imply that his 25,000-strong militia was on the way to overthrow the leadership of the military ministry in Moscow in a frenetic series of audio transmissions, in which the sound of his voice occasionally varied and could not be independently verified.
According to TASS, which quoted a source at a security service, security was increased on Friday night at government buildings, transport hubs, and other crucial areas in Moscow.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was receiving round-the-clock information, while TASS reported that The White House stated that it was keeping an eye on the situation and would communicate with allies.
Meanwhile, Kyiv said that the main offensive against Moscow’s invasion had not yet begun. Hanna Maliar, the deputy defence minister, told Ukrainian television that “the main blow is still to come.”
In one of the two primary theatres of operations, along with eastern Ukraine, a top Ukrainian general announced “tangible successes” in advancements.
General Sergei Surovikin, the campaign’s deputy commander for Russia in Ukraine, instructed the Wagner fighters to submit to Moscow’s order, follow Putin, and go back to their bases. A decline in politics, according to him, would benefit Russia’s adversaries.
In a Telegram video, Surovikin, with his right hand on a weapon, stated, “I urge you to stop.”
The standoff appeared to be Putin’s worst domestic crisis since he pushed tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February of last year, though many of the specifics of it were still unclear.
Prigozhin, a former ally of Putin’s, has been engaged in a fierce spat with Moscow in recent months. He appeared to cross a new line earlier on Friday when he said that the Kremlin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine, which it refers to as a “special military operation,” was founded on fabrications by the army’s highest command.
Wagner oversaw Russia’s conquest of the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut last month; it was the country’s biggest triumph in ten months, and up until this point, Prigozhin had used the victory on the battlefield to openly condemn the defence ministry’s leadership.
He has been openly criticising Russia’s top general, Valery Gerasimov, and defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, for their incapacity for months.
Vladimir Alekseyev, a lieutenant general in the army, pleaded with Prigozhin to change his mind in a video appeal.
“You are attempting to usurp the president’s authority, as he alone has the authority to appoint the top leadership of the armed forces,” he remarked.
On the ground in Ukraine, at least three people were killed by Russian assaults on Friday, including two who passed away after a trolleybus business came under fire in the city of Kherson, according to local officials.
A number of senior officials addressed the speed of the Ukrainian advances on Friday, sending the most definite message to date that the counteroffensive’s major phase had not yet started.
Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, was quoted by the British media portal as saying, “I want to say that our main force has not been engaged in fighting yet, and we are now searching, probing for weak places in the enemy defences. Everything is still ahead.”
There have been observable gains by the Defence Forces and advancements in the Tavria sector, stated General Oleksandr Tarnavskyi on Telegram, commanding Ukraine’s “Tavria,” or southern front.
A total of 51 military vehicles, including three tanks and 14 armoured personnel carriers, were lost by Russian forces in the last 24 hours, according to Tarnavskyi.
Ukrainian forces have not yet reached the main defensive lines that Russia has had months to prepare, despite the fact that the successes they have reported this month are their first sizable ones on the battlefield in seven months.