Vladimir Putin declares ‘armed mutiny’ as Wagner Group lead ‘coup’ against Kremlin
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Vladimir Putin has declared he's facing an 'armed mutiny' after Wagner Group mercenaries threatened to march on Moscow.
Russia has been thrown into turmoil after a mercenary group which had been fighting for Putin in his invasion of Ukraine appears to have turned on him.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of private military group Wagner and Putin's former chef, has called for an armed rebellion against Russia with the aim of removing Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu from his post over claims that Russian forces were ordered to attack a Wagner camp.
Prigozhin declared that his army would 'destroy anyone who stands in our way' while Russian officials have called for his arrest.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin made a public address this morning (24 June) where he denounced the 'betrayal' of the mercenary group and said Russia was facing the toughest battle for its future'.
He said: "All those who prepared the rebellion will suffer inevitable punishment. The armed forces and other government agencies have received the necessary orders.
Putin said this was a 'stab in the back' from the Wagner Group, while Prigozhin has said his mercenary army are 'patriots'.
The mercenary group leader has claimed that Wagner forces have shot down a Russian helicopter that attacked a civilian convoy, though there has been no independent confirmation of this.
What is known is that thousands of troops which had been fighting for the Russians in their invasion of Ukraine have now returned to Russia and now appear to have the goal of marching on Moscow.
Intelligence from the UK's Ministry of Defence said that 'the loyalty of Russia’s security forces, and especially the Russian National Guard, will be key to how the crisis plays out'.
They said that Wagner group forces were 'almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow' and that from what they can tell some Russian troops have 'likely remained passive' rather than fight Wagner mercenaries.
The MoD said the conflict between Putin and the mercenary group which has been fighting for the Russians in their invasion of Ukraine 'escalated into outright military confrontation' in the early hours of 24 June.
With the information coming out of Russia hard to verify and changing all the time it's difficult to get the clearest possible picture of what's actually happening and what impact this might have for Russia and Ukraine.
However it is hard to see how Putin facing an armed rebellion from the Wagner Group, some of Russia's most effective troops in the invasion of Ukraine, would be a beneficial state of affairs for his regime.