NYT: Crisis in Russia

A Russian mercenary leader claimed he controls a military headquarters in southern Russia, and Vladimir Putin vowed to take action.


June 24, 2023, 7:20 a.m. ET

A long-running feud over the invasion of Ukraine between the Russian military and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of Russia’s private Wagner military group, escalated into an open confrontation over the past day.

Prigozhin accused Russia of attacking his soldiers and appeared to challenge one of President Vladimir Putin’s main justifications for the war, and Russian generals in turn accused him of trying to mount a coup against Putin.

Prigozhin (pronounced pree-GOH-zhin) claimed he had control of Russia’s southern military headquarters in the city of Rostov-on-Don, near the front lines of the war in Ukraine where his fighters had been operating. Video showed him entering the headquarters’ courtyard.

Prigozhin’s moves set up the biggest challenge to Putin’s authority since he invaded of Ukraine early last year. Putin promised “decisive actions,” and Russian security forces scrambled to regain control in the country’s south.

Events unfolded rapidly:

  • Prigozhin stepped up his criticisms of the Russian military in videos posted to social media yesterday. He said Russian troops had attacked Wagner encampments and killed “a huge number of fighters.” His claims could not be verified, but he promised to bring soldiers into Russia in retaliation.

  • Troops widely believed to be Wagner forces surrounded the military headquarters in Rostov, and tanks drove down the city’s streets, videos showed. Soldiers were also seen in other key places, like the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the region.

  • Signs of active fighting were also visible near the western Russian city of Voronezh, according to videos posted online, including helicopters and a destroyed truck along the road. Reports said that Wagner fighters had entered the region.

  • Prigozhin declared that his forces were headed to Moscow. “We are going farther,” he said. “We will go to the end.”

  • Russia military armored vehicles were deployed on the streets of Moscow and in Rostov-on-Don, and Russia was moving convoys of military equipment on a major highway linking the two cities.

  • Russian security forces appeared to have also raided a Wagner building in St. Petersburg.

  • Putin vowed “to stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don.” He also called Wagner’s actions a treasonous, armed rebellion. Prigozhin rejected the allegations.

Prigozhin: Though he has complained for months about Russia’s military brass, his accusations were a significant turnabout. Prigozhin is a businessman who became rich through his ties to Putin, winning lucrative government contracts while building the Wagner mercenary force. (Read more about him from The Times’s Moscow bureau chief, Anton Troianovski.)

Putin: His quick public address was a sign of the seriousness of the situation. He prefers to exert power behind the scenes until the outcome is clear, The Times’s Steven Lee Myers wrote. Putin also acknowledged some success by Prigozhin, saying that the functioning of Rostov, a city of a million people, had “essentially been blocked.”

The generals: Prigozhin’s feud with the Russian generals grew out of the battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which his forces led on the Russian side. He accused the defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, and the country’s most senior general, Valery Gerasimov, of treason. He said they deliberately withheld ammunition and supplies from Wagner while their troops failed repeatedly in the war.

Ukraine: “Russia’s weakness is obvious,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said. But his country was still mired in violence. Russian forces fired more than 20 missiles at Kyiv this morning, killing at least three people.

The British military described the crisis as the “most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times” and said: “Over the coming hours, the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out.”

June 24, 2023 | 8 Comments »

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8 Comments / 8 Comments

  1. Prigozhin was given an offer he couldn’t refuse

    Russian intelligence services threatened to harm the families of Wagner leaders before Yevgeny Prigozhin called off his advance on Moscow, according to UK security sources.

    It has also been assessed that the mercenary force had only 8,000 fighters rather than the 25,000 claimed and faced likely defeat in any attempt to take the Russian capital.

    Vladimir Putin will now try to assimilate Wagner Group soldiers into the Russian military and take out its former leaders, according to insights shared with The Telegraph.


  2. The concensus I’ve been seeing in the (snake-pit) press, is that the following are the heads most likely to either rise or (more probably) roll:

    1. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin
    The quiet PM would automatically assume Putin’s duties should the tyrant fall

    2. Nikolai Patrushev
    Another serious contender and Putin ally, the 71-year-old is Secretary of the Security Council of Russia. He was formerly director of the FSB from 1999 to 2008

    3. Sergei Naryshkin
    Putin’s spymaster, Naryshkin is Head of the foreign intelligence service (SVR),

    4. Alexander Bortnikov
    Long tipped to replace Putin in the past, he is the director of the FSB


  3. The latest summary of the unrest in Russia:


    The following picture and caption sum up what appears to be happening:


    Caption: Putin confers with the head of Russia.
    I don’t think this situation will last long, but I don’t know what the future holds for Russia. I’m reminded of King David’s relationship with Joab; but that would be a real insult to Joab. Shoigu is as incompetent as ever; he just seems to be the Top Thug at the moment.

  4. @Michael

    same BS from you.

    How prettily you state that.

    Honestly, I have no way of knowing where the video you shared was filmed, nor when, nor even if it was filmed in Ukraine or Russia. In point of fact, however, the true details of such fanfare matters little at all. If Putin were the big bad wolf which you seem to think he is, he would have a sizeable disgruntled faction within his country and throughout his country ready to join up with the waiter-turned-proviteer-turned-mutineer to hunt down the wolf and lead his country to be swallowed up by the West. Concordantly, if what you believe to be true were actually true, we would have seen significant violence break out around the country in support of the Prigogyn’s call for insurrection while the army was otherwise occupied with beating back the Ukrainian, what did they call it, oh yes, counter-offensive.

    In point of fact, the silence which followed Prig’s call for insurrection was actually quite profoundly quiet. Also, none of the military units which actually took an oath to serve the country rather than the retired waiter seemed interested in joining the mad waiter as he bounded with his few toy soldiers to make war on his govt – all the while taking little notice of the fact that he would have to ask those he was intending upon assaulting for the arms by which he would be assault them. After a point, this becomes too silly to even discuss, but feel free to share another colorful response if you find comfort in doing so.

  5. @Michael

    there is trouble in Russia.

    Indeed there is trouble in Russia, yet the trouble remains that the West is still trying to conquer their nation in hopes of repairing the self-inflicted damage to the US hegemony. Russia of course is well aware of this very real, very concerning, reality. This is why the troubles related to this telling of “a day in the life of a crazy mercenary” are not likely to be found within Russia, if anywhere at all. I do agree with Mercouris, however, that this episode does present an image of instability within Russia to which Russia’s partners may find some discomfort and which will likely rekindle her enemies’ recently flickering hopes of success. For the Russians, however, they know the stakes at play here, as it is the very existence and survival of their nation and people at risk. Consequently, they have no interest in changing horses midstream, which is why the Russian govt was never under any threat during this event, and the continued calm in Moscow demonstrates that the people in the govt and in the capital were never in doubt of this fact.

  6. Hi, Peloni

    I’m providing this link, because Sam Faddis mentioned how the Russian military, as a whole, is not supporting Shoigu and Putin. In another post, the President of Kazakhstan refused to take sides in the conflict. Denys Davydov seems to have the most up-to-date news, suggesting a peace deal cut by Belarus’s Lukashenko, Putin and the generals.


    No matter how you cut it, despite Marie Antoinette pictures of Moscow social life, there is trouble in Russia.

  7. Here is the view of things in Moscow currently:

    This hardly recalls the moment in 2020 Washington DC when a very real coup did take place during the January 6 psyop to certify an illegitimate Marxist govt. In fact, Moscow continues to appear to be quite unphased by Prygoghen’s mutinous announcement. No barricades, no troops on the streets, no fence lines and no barbed wire. Just business as usual.