NYT: What’s happening in Russia? Here’s what we know.

The Wagner chief’s broadside against the Russian military establishment has escalated tensions drastically, but it’s not yet clear how much of a threat the situation poses to the Kremlin.

By Mike Ives, NYT June 24, 2023, 2:54 a.m. ET

Russian generals on Friday accused a Russian mercenary tycoon of trying to mount a coup against President Vladimir V. Putin. It signaled an extraordinary, open confrontation between the Wagner chief and the military, who have feuded for months over Russia’s war tactics in Ukraine.

There were reports overnight of military movements in an area of southern Russia near the border with Ukraine. And on Saturday morning, the tycoon, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, claimed to have control of parts of the military command headquarters in southern Russia.

As of the morning in Moscow, it was unclear how much the Wagner forces controlled — or how much of a threat they posed to the Kremlin.

But the confrontation already amounted to the biggest challenge to Mr. Putin’s authority since Russia invaded Ukraine 16 months ago.

Here’s what we know.

Tension escalated late Friday after Mr. Prigozhin accused the Russian military of attacking his fighters’ encampments — a claim that could not be immediately verified. He also described the invasion of Ukraine as a “racket” perpetrated by a corrupt Russian elite.

The State of the War

Mr. Prigozhin vowed that what he said was his 25,000-strong mercenary force would go on the offensive against the Russian defense ministry, though he said that the actions were not a “military coup.”

The Russian authorities responded by charging Mr. Prigozhin with “organizing an armed rebellion.” A Russian general urged Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters not to “play into the hands” of an enemy that he said was waiting for Russia’s internal political situation to worsen.

Video footage showed armored vehicles from the Russian military in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near the war’s front line in Ukraine where Mr. Prigozhin’s fighters had been operating.

Additional videos circulating online and verified by The New York Times showed dozens of soldiers getting out of military vehicles and pointing their guns at the compound that forms the military command post in southern Russia.

Early Saturday, the governor of the Rostov region asked residents to stay in their homes, saying that the authorities were “doing everything necessary” to ensure their safety. The governor of the nearby Voronezh region, north of Rostov, also said that a convoy of military equipment was moving along a local highway. It was not clear which direction it was moving.

As the events played out in Russia, Ukraine’s armed forces posted three words on Twitter: “We are watching.”

The St. Petersburg tycoon has for years been part of a charmed circle of Russian oligarchs with close ties to President Putin. In 2018, he was one of 13 Russians indicted by a federal grand jury in the United States for interfering in the 2016 American election.

Mr. Prigozhin’s Wagner mercenary force, a shadowy private military company, first emerged during Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. It has since exerted influence on behalf of Moscow in Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Sudan, Mali and Mozambique.

Wagner is important to the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine and led the recent assault on the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. And Mr. Prigozhin, who has recruited fighters from prisons, has been widely seen as a symbol of wartime Russia: ruthless, shameless and lawless.

Mr. Prigozhin has in recent months launched accusations at Russia’s military leadership. He blames Russian generals for failing to provide his forces with enough ammunition and for ignoring soldiers’ struggles.

The Kremlin tolerated his broadsides for months, even as some analysts said that Mr. Prigozhin was poised to turn his new prominence into broader political influence, possibly threatening Mr. Putin’s grip on power.

But official patience had clearly evaporated by Saturday morning, when the country’s prosecutor general announced that Mr. Prigozhin was being investigated on charges that carried a maximum prison term of 20 years. TASS, a Russian state news agency, reported that he had been charged.

The Kremlin’s spokesman reported on Friday that Mr. Putin had met “around the clock” with officials from the military, the Interior Ministry, the National Guard and the Federal Security Service.

Mike Ives is a general assignment reporter.

Russia-Ukraine War

  • Here is the latest on the standoff between Prigozhin and the Russian military.

  • Putin addresses the nation in a rare public comment during a crisis.

  • Prigozhin appears in videos at southern military headquarters.

  • Debris from a downed Russian missile tears through Kyiv building, killing two.

  • The ugly, personal feud between Russia’s defense ministry and ‘Putin’s chef’ has roots in the battle for Bakhmut.


By Spencer Brown, TOWNHALL | June 23, 2023 8:15 PM

Things took an interesting and “unprecedented” turn in Russia as Friday evening turned into Saturday morning and the Wagner Group — a paramilitary organization whose mercenaries were, until this point, fighting alongside Putin’s troops against Ukraine — made a 180-degree turn, entered Russia, and is reportedly making its way to Moscow with an axe to grind against Putin’s military leaders.According to BBC News, the Wagner Group’s leader — Yevgeny Prigozhin — recently took to social media network Telegram to claim “‘huge numbers’ of his fighters had been killed in a strike by the Russian military on a Wagner camp, though he provided no evidence to support his claims.” BBC noted that Prigozhin “has become increasingly vocal in his criticism of Russia’s military leaders” in recent months despite being, at least previously, a close confidant to Putin.
After Prigozhin made his claim, Russia turned around and launched an investigation against him for “inciting mutiny” and issued an arrest warrant as the paramilitary leader apparently made good on his promise to launch a “march for justice” against the “evil” in Russia’s military — leading Putin’s government to begin securing Moscow — according to The Wall Street Journal:

Russian authorities stepped up security in Moscow and issued an arrest warrant for Yevgeny Prigozhin, the owner of the Wagner paramilitary group, on charges of mutiny after he called on his troops to oust the country’s military leadership.

Prigozhin, a one-time confidant of President Vladimir Putin, called for retaliation after claiming that the Russian military killed “an enormous amount” of his troops in Friday’s strikes on Wagner camps. The military denied these strikes had occurred, and there was no independent evidence to back up his claim.

As Russian soldiers in armored personnel carriers secured key installations in Moscow, leading Russian military commanders who had worked with Wagner urged the group’s fighters to stop before it was too late. “The last thing we need is to unleash a real civil war inside the country. Come back to your senses,” urged Lt. Gen. Vladimir Alekseyev, the deputy chief of Russian military intelligence.

While there were no reports of clashes, Prigozhin said that his forces will launch a “march for justice.” Early on Saturday morning, he said that his troops had already left eastern Ukraine and started entering the southern Russian city of Rostov, where he said young conscripts offered no resistance. There was no immediate independent confirmation.

Securing Moscow against Wagner’s paramilitary forces — if that is indeed their target and they are able to make it that far — might be a challenge. As Fox News’ Trey Yingst pointed out, most of Russia’s forces are currently tied up in Ukraine.<


According to The Messenger’s Jim LaPorta, a “senior American intelligence official” said the situation is one of “watch and see” whether Russia and its mercenaries “destroy themselves.” The official reportedly confirmed to LaPorta that Wagner personnel are believed to be trying to make their way to the capital of Moscow.

With Moscow reportedly on “high alert” and Wagner mercenaries supposedly setting their sights on Moscow this is definitely not the sort of situation Putin would seem eager to face more than one year into his war against Ukraine that’s already brought heavy losses for his troops and even his generals, not to mention Wagner Group mercenaries.

It’s hard to imagine that Wagner personnel could take on and topple Russia’s military and Putin’s security forces in Moscow, but coups are hard to pre-judge with so many inherent variables. Are there others in Russia, already in Moscow, or within Putin’s circle who may join the Wagner Group’s proclaimed “march for justice” against the country’s military leaders? Or are Wagner fighters on a doomed mission that will leave the group out to dry against Putin’s tyrannical regime? Perhaps the whole thing — given Prigozhin’s close ties to Putin — is a KGB operation to either show Russia’s ability to put down a manufactured rebellion to dissuade others from trying a real coup?<

We’ll just have to “watch and see.”


June 24, 2023 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. This is a rapidly-developing story. I hope I don’t trigger bots and get kicked off.

    The Special Purposes Mobile Unit of the Russian National Guard (OMON) and the Federal Security Service (FSB) are reported to be currently Raiding the Offices and Headquarters Building for the Wagner Group in the City of St. Petersburg.
    10:14 PM · Jun 23, 2023

    Still catching up on the news:

    FighterBomber has just announced that 3 Helicopters were indeed Shot Down by Wagner PMC Forces in the Rostov and Voronezh Regions of Western Russia today, this includes 2 Mi-8MTRP-1 Electronic Warfare Helicopters which the Russian Air Force only has roughly 15 of in Total and a Mi-35 “Hind-E” Attack Helicopter; the Crews on both of the Mi-8s Survived but the condition of the Crew in the Mi-35 is Unknown.
    Last edited
    11:13 PM · Jun 23, 2023


    Coming soon?


  2. Hi, Ted, Poloni and others.

    The points of this NYT article closely follow what I’ve been posting, especially from Denys Davydov

    Denys Davydov
    1 hour ago
    ??The Russian army plans to blow up the bridges if the Wagner advances to prevent them from entering Moscow

    Denys Davydov
    1 hour ago
    Lipetsk Region. The convoy is on the way to Moscow

    Denys Davydov
    1 hour ago
    Seems like the Ruzzian army hit the oil depots to cut supplies for the Wagner army.

    Denys Davydov
    pilotblog 2 hours ago
    Open in
    ??Prigozhin: “The president was deeply mistaken about the betrayal of the motherland. We are patriots of our motherland. We fought and are fighting – all the fighters of the Wagner PMC. And no one is going to come to confession at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else. We are not we want the country to live on in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy.

    When we were told that we were at war with Ukraine, we went and fought. But it turned out that ammunition, weapons, all the money that is put on them, are stolen, and bureaucrats save them for themselves just for the case that came today, when someone goes to Moscow.

    We are patriots, and those who oppose us today are those who have gathered around the scum.”