Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced the head of the Wagner mercenary army Yevgeny Prigozhin‘s “treason” and vowed to “neutralize” the threat posed by his renegade Wagner mercenary army.
What Happened: On Saturday, Russia found itself on the brink of a civil war as Prigozhin seized key parts of southern Russia, including the strategic city of Rostov-on-Don, and threatened to march on Moscow. This development has escalated the stakes in Moscow’s ongoing war in Ukraine and poses a significant challenge to Putin.
According to a report by Politico, Prigozhin claimed to have taken control of Rostov, a crucial command center for the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, without a fight.
In a five-and-a-half-minute address to the nation, Putin compared the insurrection to the events of 1917, when internal strife led to the collapse of the Russian state and the onset of a civil war.
Putin denounced Wagner group’s mutnity as “a stab in the back of our nation and our people,” according to Politico. “We are dealing with treason.”
The U.K. government has indicated that Prigozhin’s forces were moving through territory around Voronezh, roughly 500 kilometers south of Moscow and around 500 kilometers north of Rostov, aiming to reach Moscow.
Russian authorities responded by closing the main highway running from Moscow to the south to block any advances by Prigozhin’s mutineers.
Why It Matters: This insurrection comes in the wake of an ongoing feud between Prigozhin and Russia’s Ministry of Defense, which has been brewing for several months. Prigozhin has repeatedly accused Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of concealing Russia’s “colossal” failures on the battlefield from Putin.
As Benzinga reported in February, Putin was reportedly worried about Prigozhin’s growing political clout. This latest development could potentially lead to a significant shift in Russia’s political landscape.
Prigozhin’s actions also have international implications. The insurrection has escalated the stakes in Moscow’s 16-month-old war on Ukraine, creating a significant headache for Putin, just as Ukrainian forces are looking for opportunities to push through Russian defensive lines in a long-awaited counteroffensive.
Image and article originally from www.benzinga.com. Read the original article here.