Russia deployed heavily armed military units inside its own country late on Friday night after Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of Russia’s feared Wagner paramilitary group, effectively vowed to destroy Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu for allegedly killing Wagner troops.
Videos on social media showed armored vehicles and helicopters being deployed in Moscow and the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, which The New York Times reported is near the front line in Ukraine where Prigozhin’s fighters were operating.
Russia accused Prigozhin of “organizing an armed rebellion” and the situation rapidly escalated to the point that authorities started shutting down websites like Google News to prevent information from spreading to the public.
Russian State Media has announced that Security Forces in the Capital Region of Moscow have been placed into a State of High Alert with “Defensive Measures being Increased at Government and Military Sites across the City.” pic.twitter.com/2VAVa8KVMe
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) June 23, 2023
Military columns spotted on the streets of Moscow pic.twitter.com/WGNzbpOsfN
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) June 24, 2023
CENTER OF MOSCOW NOW
Prigozhin has called on the Russian National Guard to join his side to fight against the Russian Army. pic.twitter.com/lljOXj3NvH
— Jason Jay Smart (@officejjsmart) June 23, 2023
A Column of Russian National Guard Trucks reportedly spotted on the Highway just to the North of the City of Rostov-on-Don in Southwestern Russia; the Leader of the Wagner PMC Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that his Forces had Crossed the Border into the Rostov Region earlier… pic.twitter.com/9ahIQSgZH9
— OSINTdefender (@sentdefender) June 24, 2023
BREAKING: Heavy helicopter activity over Rostov, Russia, as Wagner Group forces advance towards it. pic.twitter.com/M2LLOUGo0o
— The Spectator Index (@spectatorindex) June 24, 2023
Prigozhin said in a video statement that Shoigu lied to Russian President Vladimir Putin about what was going on with Ukraine in order to stoke Putin into invading the country.
“The war was needed so that a handful of scumbags could have a blast and get PR attention showing how strong the army is,” he said. “The war was needed not in order to return the Russian citizens to our bosom and not in order to ‘demilitarize and denazify Ukraine’.”
Prigozhin shared a message on his personal Telegram channel that accused Russia of launching an attack on his soldiers.
“A missile attack was carried out on a PMC Wagner base,” the message said. “There are many casualties. According to the information of the fighters who are witnesses, the attack was carried out from a rear direction – that is, it was carried out by soldiers of the Russian Ministry of Defense.”
Prigozhin said that he had 25,000 men and they were going to “figure out why chaos is happening in the country.”
“The evil that the military leadership of the country brings forward must be stopped. They have forgotten the word justice, and we will return it,” he said in an audio recording. “Anyone attempting resistance will be considered a threat and immediately destroyed. This includes all the checkpoints on our path and any aircraft above our heads.”