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Latest in Russia: Prigozhin, Wagner forces launch armed 'rebellion' in Russia (LIVE UPDATES)

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 24, 2023 12:15 PM 8 min read
A screenshot from a video released by Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin's press service on June 24 in which he claimed they had taken control of all military sites in the southern Russian city of Rostov.
This audio is created with AI assistance

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Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin launched a "march for justice" against Russian military leaders after alleging on June 23 that a missile strike on his mercenary forces in Ukraine had caused substantial casualties.

At around 8 a.m. local time on June 24, Prigozhin's press service released a video where he claimed Wagner had assumed control over all military sites in the southern Russian city of Rostov, including the airfield. There are also reports of Wagner troops moving through Russia's Voronezh Oblast to the north of Rostov.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin has called Prigozhin's armed rebellion "treachery" and said that he "will be held accountable." Follow the Kyiv Independent for the latest updates as they come in.

All timestamps are in local time (Kyiv and Moscow).

1:54 a.m. Videos released by Russian media late on June 24 and early on June 25 showed Wagner mercenaries departing from the city of Rostov, with locals cheering and applauding the soldiers in the background.

Vasily Golubev, the governor of Rostov Oblast, confirmed that Wagner troops had left the city and gone to military camps.

11:13 p.m. Prigozhin and Wagner mercenaries have left the Southern Military District's headquarters in Rostov, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

11:06 p.m. Peskov said that reshuffles at the Defense Ministry haven't been discussed with Prigozhin. Wagner's founder has called for the dismissal of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and General Staff chief Valery Gerasimov.

10:59 p.m. The Wagner mercenaries who did not participate in the rebellion will sign contracts with the Defense Ministry and will not be prosecuted, Peskov said.

10:50 p.m. The criminal case against Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin will be closed, and he will move to Belarus, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

10:36 p.m. Igor Artamonov, governor of Russia's Lipetsk Oblast, said that the regional government had started to cancel the restrictions imposed due to the Wagner rebellion. He said that the authorities would soon re-open traffic on regional highways.

10:21 p.m. Wagner mercenaries have started withdrawing from the territory around the Southern Military District's headquarters in Rostov, Russian state news agency TASS reported. A video of the withdrawal was published.

9:21 p.m. Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko claimed he had held talks with Prigozhin, after which Wagner’s boss announced the troops’ retreat, according to Lukashenko’s press service.

Lukashenko's press service also claimed that Wagner was negotiating a deal that would envisage security guarantees for the mercenaries.

8:34 p.m. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of Wagner Group, said on Telegram that the mercenaries would stop their march on Moscow and withdraw to military field camps.

"Realizing our responsibility for the (possible) spilling of Russian blood from one of the sides, we are withdrawing our columns (marching on Moscow) and going back in the opposite direction to field camps according to our plan," Prigozhin said.

8:14 p.m. At least six planes belonging to top Russian officials and businessmen have left Moscow amid the rebellion launched by Wagner mercenaries, Russia's Vazhnye Istorii investigative journalism project reported on June 24, citing data from the Flightradar24 flight tracking site.

Two planes belonging to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin flew from Moscow to St. Petersburg earlier on June 24, while a business jet belonging to Russian oligarch Arkady Rotenberg landed in Baku around 3 p.m. local time, Vazhnye Istorii reported.

7:36 p.m. About five shots were heard near the headquarters of Russia's Southern Military District in Rostov, which is under Wagner's control, state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reported.

7:03 p.m. – Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin declared a state of emergency in Russia’s capital, adding that counter-terrorist operation measures have been declared. Sobyanin said Moscow residents, with the exception of authorities, must stay home.

6:47 p.m. – Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call to discuss the latest developments in Russia. Erdogan emphasized the importance of acting with “common sense,” and said Turkey is ready to do its part to “ensure that what is happening in this context is resolved as soon as possible with peace and harmony.”

Wagner vehicles reach Lipetsk Oblast, 400 kilometers south of Moscow
A column of Wagner military vehicles en route to Moscow have reached Lipetsk Oblast, putting them within around 400 kilometers of the capital. Reuters reported that Wagner vehicles were moving toward Moscow at top speeds, not encountering significant resistance along the roads.

5:23 p.m. –  The Wagner Group has entered Russia’s Lipetsk Oblast, Lipetsk Oblast Governor Igor Artamonov said. Artamonov claimed the situation in the region is under control, adding local law enforcement is taking the “necessary steps” to ensure the population’s safety. Lipetsk Oblast, located around 450 kilometers south of Moscow, is the second Russian region Wagner has entered after Voronezh Oblast.

5:03 p.m. – Latvia has bolstered its border security and is turning away Russians leaving the country amid the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion. “Latvia is closely following the developing situation in Russia and exchanging information with allies,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said, adding there is no “direct threat” to Latvia for now.

4:57 p.m. – Speculations circulate regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin’s whereabouts amid the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion in Russia. Independent Russian media outlet Agentstvo said Putin’s presidential plane took off from an airport in Moscow at around 2 p.m. Moscow time, headed northwest. However, it has not been confirmed whether Putin was onboard, and Putin’s spokesperson Dmitry Peskov claimed that Putin remains at the Kremlin.

Russian law enforcement guard the Red Square near the Kremlin on June 24, 2023 in Moscow, Russia, amid the Wagner Group's ongoing armed rebellion in Russia. (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

4:32 p.m. – Moscow is preparing in the event of a potential siege of the Russian capital by the Wagner Group, Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate reported. According to Ukrainian intelligence, Russian military and law enforcement have restricted movement in and out of Moscow, and additional military vehicles are being brought to the capital.

4:26 p.m. – Voronezh Oblast Governor Aleksandr Gusev issued a statement in support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying there can be “no justification for the mutineers.” He said Russia’s military is conducting “operational and combat activities” in the oblast amid the Wagner Group’s ongoing armed rebellion.

4:05 p.m. – Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar called the ongoing crisis in Russia “predictable and inevitable,” adding that Moscow’s “imperial campaign for new lands” in Ukraine only exacerbates Russia’s internal problems.

4:00 p.m. – Internet access may be limited in parts of Russia where so-called “counter-terrorist operations” are taking place, Russian state-controlled media RBC reported, citing Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor.

3:24 p.m. – The Moscow-installed heads of occupied parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson oblasts expressed support for Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the ongoing situation in Russia. According to the head of Russia’s proxies in Donetsk Oblast, Denis Pushilin, the situation in the illegally occupied regions remains “stable.”

2:57 p.m. –  Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly held phone calls with Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev regarding the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion in Russia. Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan are members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, an intergovernmental military alliance that is also comprised of Kyrgystan, Armenia, and Tajikistan.

1:10 p.m. – Voronezh Oblast Governor Aleksandr Gusev said that a burning fuel tank at an oil depot is being extinguished and that more than 100 firefighters and 30 vehicles are on the scene. The M-4 highway is blocked off and Gusev urged people to use regional and local roads as detours. Videos have surfaced online that allegedly show Wagner forces near the highway.

12:54 p.m. – President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the unfolding situation in Russia, saying that “those who choose the path of evil destroy themselves.”

According to Zelensky, Russia has relied on propaganda to mask its weakness but now “there is so much chaos that no lie can hide it.” The longer Russia continues its all-out war against Ukraine, the more problems it risks facing on its own territory, Zelensky added.

12:18 p.m. – Prigozhin said in a voice message published by his press service that Putin was “deeply mistaken” to call his actions a betrayal, adding that Wagner forces would not surrender to anyone “because we don't want the country to continue living in corruption, deceit, and bureaucracy.”

Prigozhin went on to say that Wagner forces fought in Africa and Ukraine while the Russian military leadership embezzled ammunition, weapons, and money needed by forces on the ground for their own gain.

“We are patriots, and those who oppose us today are those who have gathered around scoundrels,” Prigozhin said.

12:16 p.m. – Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, announced that Russia's Interior Ministry and the National Guard would tighten border security in the region “for understandable reasons.”

From 6:00 p.m. on June 24 until 6:00 a.m. on June 25, entry to the city of Shebekino and the village of Novaya Tavolzhanka would be closed off, Gladkov added.

Putin condemns Prigozhin’s ‘rebellion’ as Wagner group leader claims he controls all military sites in Rostov
“All those who plotted rebellion will face inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other state institutions have received the necessary order,” Putin said in a video address.

11:48 a.m. – Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov called Prigozhin’s armed rebellion "treacherous" and a "stab in the back,” adding that Chechen forces had already been dispatched “to the conflict zones.”

“No matter what goals they describe to you, no matter what promises they make to you, the security of the state and the unity of Russian society are paramount at such a moment! Look at how our enemies in the West are taking advantage of this situation,” Kadyrov wrote on his Telegram channel.

According to the Chechen dictator, the armed rebellion would be stopped by “harsh measures” if necessary.

11:42 a.m. – Aleksandr Gusev, the governor of Russia's Voronezh Oblast, wrote on his Telegram channel that "within the framework of the counterterrorism operation in the Voronezh Oblast" Russian forces were "conducting necessary operational and combat activities."

10:19 a.m. – Polish President Andrzej Duda wrote that he held a meeting with his Prime Minister and Defense Ministry, as well as with the Allies, due to the unfolding situation in Russia. According to Duda, "the course of events beyond our eastern border is monitored on an ongoing basis."

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