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Kremlin spokesperson says Putin aware of 'situation with Prigozhin,' Russian media report 'panic in presidential office'

by Dinara Khalilova June 24, 2023 12:06 AM 2 min read
A screenshot from a video released by the press service of Yevgeny Prigozhin on May 13, 2023, shows the Wagner Group boss describing the tactical situation around Bakhmut, Donetsk Oblast. (Telegram)
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Check out our LIVE UPDATES on the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion in Russia.

According to the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, cited by Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Russia's Vladimir Putin is aware of "the situation unfolding around" Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and "all necessary measures are being taken."

Late on June 23, Prigozhin claimed that the Russian army hit Wagner Group's rear camps with missiles, threatening to respond and pledging to "restore justice" in Russia. Prigozhin said that his "25,000 (soldiers)" were going "to figure out why there's chaos in the country" and encouraged Russians to join them.

Russian Defense Ministry denied the alleged attack on Wagner camps, calling Prigozhin's claims "a provocation." According to Russia's state-controlled news outlet RIA Novosti, Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) opened a criminal investigation after Prigozhin's "call for insurrection."

Russian media reported that law enforcement agencies in several Russian regions have been put on high alert, and military vehicles were spotted on the streets of Rostov-on-Don, a city close to the Ukrainian border.

According to Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii, citing its source close to the Kremlin, Russia's presidential office is "in panic," and it "does not exclude the scenario of a civil war."

The source told Vazhnyye Istorii that the Kremlin had allegedly known that Prigozhin was "planning something" already a week ago. He claimed the video purportedly showing the aftermath of the alleged strike on Wagner camps shared by Prigozhin was "staged."

Prigozhin has long been in conflict with the Russian Defense Ministry, which he criticized for negligence and lack of military supplies. Wagner Group's boss claimed that his mercenaries were the only Russian units achieving success on the battlefield.

The defense ministry has ordered all "volunteer" formations, including paramilitary formations and mercenaries like Wagner, to sign formal contracts with the state by July 1. The move was seen as an attempt to put the Wagner mercenaries under the control of the Russian military.

Prigozhin accuses Russian army of attacking Wagner, threatens to respond
Yevgeny Prigozhin, chief of the Wagner Group mercenaries, said Russian Defense Ministry attacked the group’s bases in the rear. “We have 25,000 (soldiers), and we’re going to respond,” he said.
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