Wagner Boss Prigozhin Claims His Forces Are Entering Russia


  • Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed he and his troops were marching on Russia.
  • The mercenary leader triggered panic by pledging to take up arms against Russia’s defense ministry.
  • A military strategist warned against drawing conclusions: “There’s more we don’t know than we do.”

Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed his mercenary troops were entering Russia early Saturday morning as the country appeared to be battening down for a fight.

Prigozhin triggered panic on Friday as he slammed Russia’s “evil” defense ministry in a series of social media statements that included a pledge to take up arms against the agency following allegations the government ministry conducted a missile strike that killed a number of his for-hire fighters.

In a subsequent Telegram audio post, Prigozhin said he and his troops had driven into the Russian region of Rostov where they were met by young draftees who offered no resistance. He said his forces aren’t “fighting against children,” according to an Associated Press translation.

“But we will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” Prigozhin added. “We are moving forward and will go until the end.”

At least two Russian generals took to Telegram on Friday to appeal directly to Wagner troops in a display that hinted at the defense ministry’s growing unease over Prigozhin’s threats.  General Sergey Surovikin, the deputy commander of Russia’s war effort in Ukraine, urged the mercenary forces to “stop their armored columns” and detain their rogue leader.

Surovkin’s mention of “armored columns” suggests the veracity of Prigozhin’s claims could be more legitimate than his typical bravado. Still, there is no confirmed video evidence that Prigozhin and his troops are heading toward the city of Rostov in columns.

Mick Ryan, a retired major general in the Australian military and military strategist, cautioned against drawing conclusions in the early hours of chaos.

“There’s more we don’t know than we do know,” Ryan told Insider. “There’s a lot of information operations and influence activities going on but what’s actually happening on the ground is unclear.”

Russian state media Tass reported Friday that military checkpoints had been established near the district headquarters in Rostov and traffic stopped in the region, with military and law enforcement “upholding the public order.” Numerous police cars and an armored personnel carrier were spotted near the Rostov headquarters of the Southern Military District, according to Tass.

But whether or not Rostov’s apparent lockdown is proof of an impending Prigozhin coup remains to be seen, Ryan said.

“It could well be,” he said. “Or it could be a regional governor overreacting to a few Telegram posts.”

As chaos mounts, Russian civilians and officials attempted to refocus attention on the country’s ongoing war effort in Ukraine, posting Telegram messages encouraging Russian troops to remember the real “enemy” — Ukraine.

“Whether this is a coup or just a crazy night of chaos, we’ll find out,” Ryan said. “Though knowing Russia, we’ll never know all the details.”



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