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Private mercenary Wagner Group boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that his fighters have entered Russia's southern Rostov Oblast, located near Ukraine's border, and that they had shot down a helicopter that had fired on what he referred to as a "civilian column."
"Now, we are entering Rostov. Ministry of Defense units, or rather their conscripts, who were thrown to block the road, stepped aside," Prigozhin claimed in a bombastic voice message posted to his press service's Telegram channel.
"Border guards came out to meet us and hugged our fighters, Prigozhin claimed, saying that his fighters had "crossed the state border in all places."
Prigozhin also issued a warning to anyone who might try to stand in the way of his fighters: "We will destroy everything that gets in our way."
In a separate, short voice message posted about an hour later, Prigozhin claimed that a helicopter had opened fire on a "column of civilians" and that it was shot down by the Wagner Group. He did not provide any additional information.
The Kyiv Independent could not independently verify these claims.
The voice message comes as Russian military leaders called on the Wagner Group after midnight on June 24 to hold their positions following a video statement in which Prigozhin called the Russian military leadership "evil" and vowed a "march for justice."
Meanwhile, Russian media outlet Vazhnyye Istorii reported, citing Russian state-controlled news agency TASS, that Moscow had strengthened security measures in the capital and put police forces and government agencies on high alert.