Founder of Wagner private mercenary group Yevgeny Prigozhin makes a statement in an undisclosed location


  • Russia "betrayed by those who are trying to organize a mutiny, pushing the country toward anarchy": Putin
  • Says situation in Rostov "remaind difficult"
  • Wagner fighters control Russian military HQ in Rostov
  • Wagner armed convoy heading to Kremlin
  • Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin vowed to topple Kremlin military leadership

Updated at 05:00 a.m. EST Saturday

Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to punish those involved in an unprecedented armed mutiny against the Kremlin as a revolt by the chief of the Wagner mercenary group posed the worst ever crisis for the authoritarian regime.

The alarming reports of the insurrection come as the nuclear superpower is locked in a tough fight with Ukrainian forces trying to take back land occupied by Russian troops who invaded the country in February 2022.

Putin, addressing the nation Saturday morning, said that "any actions that fracture our unity" are "a stab in the back of our country and our people." He promised to take decisive action in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, where his one-time confidant and oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters have taken over the army headquarters and other defense facilities there including an airfield.

Putin conceded that "in Rostov, the work of civil and military administration is basically blocked." He warned that the mutiny was a "blow to Russia," and said the turmoil is a "mortal threat to our statehood, to us as a nation."

And other cities may be falling to Prigozhin's fighters if information shared on Twitter is to be believed. International Business Times could not independently verify the details of Wagner's successes.

The ripples of the insurrection are already being felt in Moscow. The Russian president said "anti terrorism, security measures have been imposed in Moscow, Moscow region and a number of other regions," after Prigozhin reportedly sent a convoy of fighters and equipment to the Russian capital, a 1,200 km drive away.

Unverified Twitter posts said there was heavy fighting in the Voronezh Region through which the convoy was passing. Russian National Guard troops seem to be moving to the region.

Another Twitter post, which could not be verified, said the Wagner troops had shot down a Russian air force plane.

The Wagner mercenary group that Prigozhin heads played a key role in capturing Bakhmut in Ukraine but Prigozhin has complained repeatedly that the Kremlin bosses had restricted his forces from receiving ammunition and supplies during the fight.

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said that "anti-terrorist measures" were being taken, including additional checks on roads, showing the seriousness of the revolt by Prigozhin's mercenary forces.

The M-4 motorway connecting Moscow with the country's southern regions was closed at the border with the Voronezh region, the governor of the Lipetsk region in central Russia said.

Prigozhin, who has openly feuded with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the Kremlin military leadership, threatened to topple the Russian military leadership after accusing the Russian military of a missile strike on Wagner troops in Ukraine.

The Russian military HQ in Rostov-on-Don, now under Wagner control, is a key combat control center for Russia's military operations in Ukraine. "Planes that leave for combat work leave as usual no problems. Medical flights are leaving as usual. All we did was to take control so that the attack aviation would not strike us but strike in the Ukrainian direction," Prigozhin posted on Wagner's official Telegram channel.

The Russian defense ministry denied Prigozhin's claims and the Russian FSB secret service opened a criminal case against Prigozhin for armed mutiny. Russia has also appealed to the Wagner members to abandon Prigozhin.

The Wagner chief claimed in his Telegram channel that Russian military members were joining the convoy of military equipment he sent to Rostov.

Prigozhin has reportedly known Putin since the 1990s, and won lucrative catering contracts with the Kremlin, which earned him the nickname "Putin's chef."

The Wagner Center in St. Petersburg has been surrounded by Russian security forces, RIA Novosti reported.

(This is a developing story.)