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UK Defense Ministry: Loyalty of Russian security forces 'key factor' to how Prigozhin's 'rebellion' plays out

by Kate Tsurkan June 24, 2023 11:46 AM 2 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.
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Check out our LIVE UPDATES on the Wagner Group’s armed rebellion in Russia.

The outcome of the Wagner mercenary group’s armed rebellion will partly depend on the Russian National Guard and other security forces’ loyalty to the state, the U.K. Defense Ministry wrote in its intelligence update on June 24.

Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin initiated what he called a "march for justice" against the Russian military leadership following his claim on June 23 that they had targeted his mercenary forces in Ukraine with a devastating missile strike, resulting in significant casualties.

Shortly before 8 a.m. local time on June 24, Prigozhin’s press service published a video online in which he claimed that all military sites in the southern Russian city of Rostov were under Wagner's control, including the airfield.

In a five-minute video address released on June 24, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin said that any infighting that undermines "the unity of Russia" at such a time is "essentially treachery."

Although he did not reference him by name, Putin said the infighting between Prigozhin and the Russian military leadership was a "deadly threat" to Russian statehood, adding that "actions to defend against such a threat will be severe."

Tensions between Prigozhin and the Russian military leadership have been steadily escalating for months, with Prigozhin publicly expressing frustration over inadequate weapons and logistical support for his troops during the 10-month battle for Bakhmut.

According to the U.K. Defense Ministry, the unfolding events “represent the most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times.”

Wagner units moving through Russia’s Voronezh Oblast are “almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow,” the ministry wrote.

Given that there is little recorded evidence of clashes between Wagner and Russian security forces, some of the latter have “likely remained passive, acquiescing to Wagner,” the ministry 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.
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