On the evening of June 23, the head of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, announced that his mercenaries were going to remove the military leadership of the Russian Federation. His military formations went to Rostov-on-Don and Voronezh, then to go to Moscow. The Insider publishes a selection of the main events that took place before the end of the morning on June 24th.
What Prigozhin and PMC Wagner are doing
On the morning of June 23, the head of the Wagner PMC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, in his long interview , said that Ukraine was not going to attack the Russian Federation, and the war was unleashed by the "oligarchic clan" in power and the General Staff of the Russian Federation. Late in the evening, he accused the RF Ministry of Defense of delivering strikes against the locations of the "Wagnerites" and urged to stop "the evil that the military leadership of the country bears."
During the evening and night, Prigozhin made many statements in his press service channel , which boiled down to the fact that the forces of Wagner PMC crossed the Russian border with the occupied territories of Ukraine and were moving towards Rostov-on-Don. There were scattered reports about many kilometers of columns of "Wagnerites" on the border and increased security measures in the southern regions of the Russian Federation.
Something concrete began to clear up only by the morning of June 24th. Then it became clear that Prigozhin’s forces had indeed entered Rostov-on-Don and taken control of several administrative buildings and the headquarters of the Southern Military District (which also houses the headquarters of the United Group of Troops (Forces) that manages the war in Ukraine), and are also moving towards Voronezh, until a certain point without encountering much resistance. On the outskirts of Voronezh, however, shooting battles began . A little later, it was reported that the Wagnerites had captured the military facilities of the city, but this information has not yet been confirmed. On the other hand, it became known that the PMC controls the military airfield in Millerovo.
In the Wagner columns , Pantsir anti-aircraft missile systems and Strela-10 air defense systems were seen, which, as far as is known, shot down at least three Russian helicopters and one Il-18 relay aircraft at the moment.
On the part of Prigozhin's formations, there were both calls for the military to join them, and statements that many representatives of law enforcement agencies allegedly either do this or refuse to fight against the forces of the Wagner PMC.
Closer to noon, Prigozhin, who had previously only made claims against the country's military leadership, accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being "deeply mistaken." He said that Wagner PMC formations would not lay down their arms because they did not want "the country to live on in corruption, deceit and bureaucracy." He also quite clearly indicated that the "Wagnerites" are going to Moscow.
Before that, Prigozhin met at the headquarters of the Southern Military District in Rostov-on-Don with the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, whom he scolded for addressing him as “you”. Also, the head of the "Wagnerites" said that he would shoot down helicopters of the Russian Defense Ministry and accused the military of organizing "meat assaults" in Ukraine. The negotiations did not lead to any result. Their conversation took place in the courtyard of the building, inside which, a few hours earlier, Generals Alekseev and Surovikin, apparently, wrote down their appeals to the "Wagnerites" with a call to stop the rebellion.
Retired Russian Aviation Colonel Viktor Alksnis, in an interview with The Insider, doubted that Prigozhin would keep Moscow, even if he could reach it:
I doubt that he has a chance to reach Moscow if Putin and his entourage begin to put into practice the words that the president said today in his address to the nation. If everything is again limited to loud statements, but nothing is done, then Prigozhin will be able to enter Moscow. Although he will not succeed in holding the position with the forces of four thousand people.
The Russian army consists of hundreds of thousands of people, and not all of them are at the front in Ukraine. Considering that Wagner does not have artillery, a couple of tanks, it is quite simple to deploy and use artillery and aircraft on a column that is moving without serious air defense. There is already a need for political will to stop this column.
Internal troops are not designed to conduct combat operations with regular military personnel. I would not be particularly deceived by the news that a mass transition of regular military personnel to the side of Wagner is beginning. It seems to me that these are exaggerated expectations, but the situation will show what will happen next.
How did the Russian government react?
After the first statements by Yevgeny Prigozhin, reports began to be received about the blocking of roads and the entry of equipment and personnel of the power structures of the Russian Federation into Russian cities, including Moscow. Administrative buildings were taken under the protection of the security forces, and checks were carried out on the roads.
Sergei Surovikin , Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Deputy Commander of the Russian Group of Forces in Ukraine, and Vladimir Alekseev, Deputy Head of the GRU, made appeals to Prigozhin. They talked about the fact that mercenaries do not need to go against those with whom they had recently fought shoulder to shoulder, and also urged not to participate in a coup d'état.
On Channel One, several special newscasts were released at night. Host Ekaterina Andreeva literally read out a selection of messages from Telegram channels and official statements from news agencies, trying to present the situation as being under control.
In Moscow, the Moscow Region and the Voronezh Region, a counter-terrorist operation regime was introduced in the morning. Graduations in Moscow schools were postponed for a week, in other regions of the Russian Federation they also began to cancel public events.
Vladimir Putin issued a statement at about 10 a.m. in which he called Prigozhin’s actions a betrayal and betrayal of the country (while not naming the name and surname of the head of the PMC). He promised "imminent punishment" for those who organized the "internal turmoil". “The armed forces have received appropriate orders,” the Russian president noted, also saying that “decisive actions” would be taken to “stabilize the situation in Rostov-on-Don.” Prigozhin responded to this with a speech about "Putin's mistake."
It was also reported about the negotiations of the Russian president with Alexander Lukashenko, President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev and President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev, as reported by Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, also spoke out. He actually repeated the theses of Putin's speech and called on everyone to rally around the head of state. He also announced that the formations of Kadyrov's "have already left for the zone of tension" to suppress the rebellion. According to Chechen human rights activist Abubakar Yangulbaev, Kadyrov's security forces are indeed gradually moving the contingent stationed in Belgorod to other regions of Russia. Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev made a statement that also very much resembled Putin's. He ended it with the words "victory will be ours." The leaders of the parliamentary factions declared the need to rally around Putin.
What do they say in the West
British intelligence in its daily report writes that the Wagner PMC is “almost definitely” going to go to Moscow. According to the report, the "Wagnerites" crossed the Russian border with the occupied territories of Ukraine in at least two places. It is noted that the military and other security forces practically do not offer resistance to Prigozhin's forces. Intelligence calls the loyalty of the security forces of Russia to the authorities the key to the development of the crisis.
US President Joe Biden was informed about Prigozhin's rebellion. According to White House officials, they are monitoring the situation and consulting with allies about what is happening in Russia. CNN wrote that US officials consider Prigozhin's statements and actions to be "real", although they say that they do not have a clear understanding of what is happening.
The representative of the European Commission said that the EU is also following what is happening in the Russian Federation and consider the unfolding events to be the “internal affair” of the country. In Germany and France, representatives of the German Chancellor and the Elysee Palace respectively reacted in a similar way, mentioning that support for Ukraine is now a more important issue for them.
Polish President Andrzej Duda held consultations with the Prime Minister and the head of the country's Ministry of Defense. It is reported that in Poland they are also "watching" what is happening. Somewhat later, however, Duda put the army on high alert.
Mikhail Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine , called what is happening the beginning of a civil war in Russia. Then he wrote that "Prigozhin's counter-terrorist operation in Russia has already led to the capture of Rostov, several federal highways, and headquarters." Podolyak stressed that the split of the elites in Russia is obvious.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called “obvious” the weakness of Russia, which Putin has long masked with propaganda. “Everyone who chooses the path of evil destroys himself,” he said.
What's going on at the front
Despite the situation in the Russian Federation, the Russian military subjected the territory of Ukraine to massive rocket fire at night with the help of 50 X-101/X-555, Caliber and X-22 cruise missiles. 41 of them (as well as two kamikaze drones of the Shahed (aka Geran) family) were shot down. It is known about the fall of fragments of a downed rocket into a residential high-rise building in Kiev, as well as about destruction and casualties in other regions of the country.
In general, it is impossible to talk about any significant events at the front, especially since all attention is now focused on what is happening on the territory of Russia - a well-known Ukrainian UAV operator with the call sign “Madyar” hints at this in an ironic video.