Skip to main content

Russia: Insurrection Led by Prigozhin Comes to Abrupt End

posted onJune 25, 2023

Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin ordered his fighters to end their march on Moscow and return to their bases in southern Russia, averting what many expected could lead to direct clashes with the Russian army and a potential civil war.

The notorious warlord said that he wanted to avoid shedding Russian blood and would order his troops back to their bases instead.

“Now the moment has come when blood can be shed,” he said. “Therefore, realising all the responsibility for the fact that Russian blood will be shed from one side, we will turn our convoys around and go in the opposite direction to our field camps.”

The decision followed negotiations with the Belarusian president, Alexander Lukashenko, Prigozhin and Lukashenko’s press services reported. The terms appeared to include an amnesty for Wagner fighters who had participated in the insurrection, although it was not clear whether Prigozhin would still face punishment for his role in launching what was effectively the country’s first armed coup in decades.

“The negotiations lasted throughout the day,” Lukashenko’s press pool reported. “As a result, we came to an agreement on the inadmissibility of unleashing a bloody massacre on the territory of Russia.

“Yevgeny Prigozhin accepted the proposal of the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, to stop the movement of armed persons of the Wagner company on the territory of Russia and further steps to de-escalate tension,” it continued.

“At the moment, there is an absolutely beneficial and acceptable solution to the situation on the table, with security guarantees for the fighters of the Wagner PMCs.”

Wagner mercenary troops loyal to Prigozhin had been heading north in a convoy it was thought could have reached the Russian capital of Moscow by Saturday evening.
The convoy of lorries, tanks and infantry fighting vehicles had hoped to reach the capital before being intercepted by Russian regular troops, according to analysts and Russian military bloggers.

Video from the convoy earlier on Saturday showed it had broken through barricades in the Lipetsk region, which borders Moscow from the south. The Russian government had been hurriedly preparing defences, including anti-tank ditches dug into main highways.

Photos and video from Moscow showed the Russian government establishing checkpoints at the southern outskirts of the city guarded by sandbagged machine-gun emplacements, and infantry fighting vehicles patrolling the city near government buildings, including the Kremlin and State Duma.

Prigozhin was seen with a second detachment of troops that captured the headquarters of the southern military district in the city of Rostov-on-Don on Saturday.

Those troops appeared to be entrenching themselves in the city, laying mines and establishing checkpoints. A resistance there could be “very messy”, said one military expert at the time, considering Wagner’s extensive experience at urban combat during the battle for Bakhmut.

Igor Girkin, a former leader of Russian proxy forces in Ukraine who now writes on Telegram, said Prigozhin’s troops were bypassing big cities such as Voronezh and Lipetsk and trying to avoid being pulled into battles with local garrisons, he said.

Prigohzin was betting on “panic and the flight of all senior officials,” he said, and hoping that he could simply walk in to the Kremlin. But he was likely to fail, he added.
Russia took extraordinary steps to limit travel around the country due to the Wagner uprising. All trains in and out of Rostov-on-Don, a city of more than 1 million, were halted, leaving crowds of stranded travellers at stations. Some cities were blockaded along the M4 highway to prevent Wagner from entering.

In Moscow, the government declared a counter-terrorist operation and closed most cultural sites, including museums and parks. The city has also declared Monday a public holiday.

Vladimir Putin had vowed that Russia’s actions to put down the “armed insurrection” would be “brutal”. But the army appeared unable or unwilling to stop Prigozhin’s troops, which reportedly exchanged fire with defence ministry troops while travelling toward Moscow.

Prigozhin said he was holding a “march for justice” that was meant to punish military leaders who he claimed were responsible for the deaths of his mercenaries.

About Author

Kp Reporter - Chief editor

Join the conversation

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.