Wagner Group starts ‘armed mutiny’ as it declares Russia will soon have a ‘new president’
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Featured Image Credit: YouTube / Prigozhin Press Service / Sky News
The leader of Russian mercenaries the Wagner Group claims the country 'will have a new president'.
Since the start of the war in Ukraine, Wagner Group has been vital to Russia's onslaught, taking up the fight in key battlegrounds such as Bakhmut.
But in a statement to the Russian people, Putin accused the mercenary unit and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, of 'internal treachery'.
"What we are facing is precisely betrayal," he said in a statement. "Excessive ambition and vested interests have led to treason.
"Betrayal of one's country, one's people, and the cause for which the soldiers and commanders of the Wagner group had fought and died, side by side with our other units."
Putin said "all kinds of political adventurers and foreign forces, who divided the country and tore it apart, profited from their own interests. We will not let this happen again."
Adding: "We will protect both our people and our statehood from any threats, including internal treachery.
"Anyone who consciously went on the path of betrayal, who prepared the armed mutiny, went on the path of blackmail and terrorist actions, will take an inevitable punishment. They will answer to the law and our people.
“Those who prepared the military mutiny, who raise weapons against combat brothers, have betrayed Russia, and will pay for this."
In response to the president's comments, Prigozhin said he was 'deeply mistaken'.
Taking to Telegram, he described the Wagner Group and its soldiers as 'patriots'.
"Regarding the ‘betrayal of the motherland,’ the president is deeply mistaken," Prigozhin said.
"We are patriots of our Motherland, we fought and are fighting, all the fighters of the PMC Wagner. And no one is going to turn themselves in at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else."
He went on: "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 was allocated is also being stolen, and the bureaucrats are sitting [idly], saving it for themselves, just for the occasion that happened today, when someone [is] marching to Moscow."
In a post this morning (24 June), Prigozhin warned that change is coming to the Kremlin and its leadership.
"Putin made the wrong choice," he wrote. "All the worse for him. Soon we will have a new president."
As Wagner forces make their way to the Russian capital, they have reportedly taken control of military sites in two cities.
One of those is Voronezh, where an oil depot has been set on fire, with the regional governor, Alexander Gusev, with 100 firefighters desperately trying to get it under control.