Russia-Ukraine live updates: Prigozhin thought he’d have help from Russian military, US official says

(NEW YORK) — As Russia continues its nearly 16-month-long invasion of neighboring Ukraine, political turmoil has erupted in Moscow while Kyiv tries to take back territory.

A feud between Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group, and Russia’s top military brass escalated as Prigozhin’s forces left the front line in Ukraine and marched across the border to seize a key Russian city. They then marched north toward Russia’s capital, seemingly unopposed, before turning around just hours later. The short-lived rebellion was described by international observers as the most significant challenge to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s authority in his more than 20 years of rule.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian troops are in the early stages of a counteroffensive to reclaim the almost one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory that is under Russian control.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

Jun 27, 10:56 PM EDT
Prigozhin thought he would have help from Russian military: Senior US official

A senior U.S. official tells ABC News that Yevgeny Prigozhin thought he would have help from the Russian military.

Both former Russian military officers and some others in Moscow had conversations with Prigozhin before he started his march, the official said.

The U.S. doesn’t believe Russian President Vladimir Putin realized this beforehand, and the officers sided with Putin in the end, the official said.

According to the official, Prigozhin was shocked he didn’t have support.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Jun 27, 9:43 PM EDT
Russian missiles strike Donetsk city

Two Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing at least four people, according to officials.

At least 47 people were injured in the attack, but the death and injury toll could rise.

One of the deceased victims was a 15-year-old and one of the wounded victims was a child under a year-old, officials said.

One missile struck an eatery downtown and the other one hit the outskirts of the city, Andriy Yermak the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office said.

A restaurant and a hotel were badly damaged as a result of the strikes, according to officials.

Crews continued to dig through the rubble to search for victims throughout the evening.

“Each such manifestation of terror proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat and a tribunal, fair and legal trials against all Russian murderers and terrorists,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko and Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 5:55 PM EDT
Russian missiles strike Donetsk city

Two Russian missiles struck Kramatorsk, a city in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, killing at least four people, according to officials.

At least 47 people were injured in the attack, but the death and injury toll could rise.

One of the deceased victims was a 15-year-old and one of the wounded victims was a child under a year-old, officials said.

One missile struck an eatery downtown and the other one hit the outskirts of the city, Andriy Yermak the head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office said.

A restaurant and a hotel were badly damaged as a result of the strikes, according to officials.

Crews continued to dig through the rubble to search for victims throughout the evening.

“Each such manifestation of terror proves over and over again to us and to the whole world that Russia deserves only one thing as a result of everything it has done – defeat and a tribunal, fair and legal trials against all Russian murderers and terrorists,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a statement.

-ABC News’ Fidel Pavlenko and Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 2:33 PM EDT
US sanctions alleged illicit gold companies funding Wagner Group

The U.S. announced additional sanctions targeting the Wagner Group, specifically going after gold companies and a Russian man it says are illicitly funding the Wagner Group’s operations in Ukraine and Africa.

Central African Republic based companies Midas Resources SARLU and Diamville SAU, Dubai based company Industrial Resources General Trading and Russia based company Limited Liability Company, re connected to Wagner’s leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is already subject to U.S. sanctions along with numerous other entities linked to the Wagner Group, according to the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Andrey Nikolayevich Ivanov, a Russian national, and an executive in the Wagner Group, allegedly worked closely with Prigozhin’s entity Africa Politology and senior Malian government officials on weapons deals, mining concerns, and other Wagner Group activities in Mali, OFAC said.

“The Wagner Group funds its brutal operations in part by exploiting natural resources in countries like the Central African Republic and Mali,” Brian Nelson, the U.S. under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a written statement. “The United States will continue to target the Wagner Group’s revenue streams to degrade its expansion and violence in Africa, Ukraine, and anywhere else.”

-ABC News’ Ben Gittleson

Jun 27, 2:19 PM EDT
Ukraine has recaptured 300 sq km so far: UK minister

Ukraine has recaptured approximately 300 square kilometers during the summer counteroffensive so far, United Kingdom Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said Tuesday.

The gains represent more territory than Russia seized during its winter offensive in 2022, Wallace told Parliament.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jun 27, 1:31 PM EDT
Belarus president talks about Wagner negotiations

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko provided more details about his alleged role in negotiations between Wager Group leader’s Yevgeny Prigozhin and Russian President Vladimir Putin following the PMC’s rebellion.

Lukashenko claimed Prigozhin abandoned his demands, including the resignation of Shoigu, after they talked.

“[Prigozhin] told me ‘Alexander Grigoryevich, I will not demand from the president that he give up Shoigu and Gerasimov, and I will not even ask for a meeting,’ I say, ‘Well, that’s good. This is a very good move,"” Lukashenko claimed.

Lukashenko said that Wagner forces could join the Belarusian army but said that he won’t built camps for Wagner’s troops in his country.

“We don’t need to open any Wagner recruitment points,” he said.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule

Jun 27, 12:22 PM EDT
Belarus president says Prigozhin arrived in the country Tuesday

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on state media Tuesday that Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin arrived in his country earlier in the day.

Lukashenko claimed on state media that “security guarantees” Russian President Vladimir Putin promised to Prigozhin were provided.

“Yes, indeed, he is in Belarus today. As I promised, if you want to stay with us for a while and so on, we will help you,” Lukashenko said.

-ABC News’ Victoria Beaule and Tanya Stukalova

Jun 27, 11:10 AM EDT
Ukraine makes gain on occupied bank across from Kherson

Ukrainian troops have reportedly seized a small village on the Russian-occupied eastern bank of Dneipr after crossing the river from the liberated city of Kherson, according to Russian accounts on Tuesday.

A small Ukrainian force has managed to dig in to the village of Dachi after making a landing there a few days ago and are trying to expand the beachhead. Ukrainian troops in small boats crossed the river and landed at the base of the ruined Antonivskiy Bridge, which they destroyed last year.

Russian military bloggers reported very heavy fighting on Tuesday, saying Russian airborne units have been trying unsuccessfully to dislodge the Ukrainians for the past four days. Russian aviation and heavy artillery have been firing on the Ukrainian position.

So far, the Russian side claims some 70 Ukrainian soldiers are dug in, covered by intense artillery fire from across the river. The Russian accounts say Ukraine is trying to move reinforcements across. Video released by Ukraine also shows a Russian APC being destroyed in the village of Oleshkjy, further south, indicating the bank south of Kherson is now contested.

Ukrainian troops have also managed to advance and liberate Rivnopil, a village on the Zaporozhzhia front, breaking through after more than two weeks of fighting. It’s notable because the Russians had been fighting hard to hold it.

Taken together the advance there, the landing in Kherson and advances near Bakhmut are small signs the Ukrainian counteroffensive may be starting to pick up steam and the Russians are coming under growing pressure.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 27, 6:39 AM EDT
Military stopped ‘civil war,’ Putin says

The Russian military and security forces stopped what could have become a “civil war,” President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

“The Russian military in a difficult hour for the country stood in the way of turmoil, the result of which would be chaos,” Putin said at an event for military units, adding that “the military and law enforcement officers of the Russian Federation actually stopped the civil war.”

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who the Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s had sought to have replaced, was present at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Jun 27, 5:15 AM EDT
Belarus was ‘combat’ ready during rebellion, president says

The military in Belarus was ordered to “full combat readiness” during the Wagner Group’s rebellion in neighboring Russia, President Alexander Lukashenko said.

Lukashenko, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was said to have helped broker a deal to halt the choatic rebellion by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“I will not hide, it was painful to watch the events that took place in the south of Russia,” Lukashenko said Tuesday during brief remarks before a military presentation. “Not only me. Many of our citizens took them to heart. Because the fatherland is one.”

The fatherland comment appeared to allude to Lukashenko’s longstanding belief that Russia and Belarus share a special bond.

He added, “I gave all orders to bring the army to full combat readiness.”

Jun 27, 5:01 AM EDT
Russia closes case against Wagner Group leader

The Russian Federal Security Service on Tuesday dropped the criminal case investigating the rebellion by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his forces.

The FSB said it closed the case because it has been established that participants stopped actions directly aimed at committing a crime.

Jun 26, 6:28 PM EDT
US to announce 500M in military aid to Ukraine, official says

The U.S. will announce another military aid package for Ukraine Tuesday, a U.S. official told ABC News.

The $500 million aid package will include 30 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 25 Stryker armored vehicles, missiles for the HIMARS system and the Patriot air defense system, TOW missiles, Javelins and more ammunition for artillery, according to the official.

This will be the 41st aid package under the Presidential Drawdown Authority that allows the transfer of weapons from U.S. military stockpiles to Ukraine.

-ABC News’ Luis Martinez

Jun 26, 3:42 PM EDT
Putin expresses defiance against attempted Wagner rebellion

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered his first public remarks after the Wagner Group attempted to march to Moscow and overthrow the government.

In a pre-recorded video statement, Putin thanked the Russians for their endurance, solidarity and patriotism during the ordeal and claimed that any blackmail attempt was doomed to fail.

Putin said an armed rebellion would have been suppressed.

“The organizers of the rebellion, betraying their country, their people, betrayed those who were drawn into the crime. They lied to them, pushed them to death, under fire, to shoot at their own,” Putin said.

The Russian president noted that the majority of Wagner fighters were “patriots.”

“I thank those soldiers and commanders of the Wagner Group who made the only right decision,” Putin said. “They did not go to fratricidal bloodshed, they stopped at the last line.”

Putin offered Wagner Group members who participated in the rebellion the option of joining the defense ministry or other law enforcement agencies or returning home.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman, Natalia Shumskaia, Tanya Stukalova and Anastasia Bagaeva

Jun 26, 12:52 PM EDT
Biden says US, NATO not involved in Wagner rebellion

President Joe Biden spoke out addressed the Wagner Group’s actions over the weekend.

He said the U.S. and its allies convened on Friday when the rebellion began.

“They agreed with me that we had to make sure we gave Putin no excuse, let me emphasize, gave Putin no excuse to blame this on the West or to blame this on NATO,” Biden said at a news conference at the White House.

The president added that the incident was “part of a struggle within the Russian system.”

-ABC News’ Alexandra Hutzler

Jun 26, 12:44 PM EDT
European leaders respond to Wagner attempted rebellion

The European Union Foreign Affairs Council met Monday and discussed the attempted rebellion by the Wagner paramilitary group over the weekend.

Josep Borrell, the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, told reporters at a news conference after the meeting that “the situation remains complex and unpredictable” and 27 EU states are remaining vigilant.

U.K. Foreign Minister James Cleverly released a statement Monday claiming the “Russian government’s lies have been exposed by one of President Putin’s own henchmen.”

“Prigozhin’s rebellion is an unprecedented challenge to President Putin’s authority, and it is clear that cracks are emerging in the Russian support for the war,” he said.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman

Jun 26, 12:18 PM EDT
‘We had no goal of overthrowing’ the government: Prigozhin

Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin released an 11-minute recording Monday explaining why his troops reversed course on their campaign against Moscow over the weekend.

Prigozhin said the purpose of the “march” was to prevent losses of his troops “and to bring justice to all persons who, through their unprofessional actions, made a huge number of mistakes during” the war in Ukraine.

“We had no goal of overthrowing the regime,” he added, referring to Putin’s government.

Prigozhin said that the march escalated after their convoy was hit by a missile attack from Russian forces.

Prigozhin said that the marched stopped when his troops approached “Moscow deployed artillery.”

“We did not want to shed Russian blood. We went to demonstrate our protest and not to overthrow the government in the country,” he said.

He claimed that several of his troops were wounded and two were killed.

-ABC News’ Ellie Kaufman, Natalia Shumskaia and Tanya Stukalova

Jun 26, 5:47 AM EDT
Ukrainian forces appear to cross river into occupied Kherson

The Ukrainian military has landed troops on the Russian-held eastern bank of the Dnipro River across from the city of Kherson, according to Russian reports.

Media posted online by pro-Russian accounts suggested small boatloads of Ukrainian soldiers have managed to establish a small beachhead at the foot of the destroyed Antonivskiy Road Bridge that spanned the river before Ukraine brought it down last year.

The size of the Ukrainian force on the bank is unclear, but Russian accounts suggested it was relatively small.

Some Russian accounts posted dramatic video showing fighting on the eastern bank, including what appears to be a Russian armored vehicle firing intensively at Ukrainian soldiers as it recovers Russian wounded.

The video was undated but Russian reports suggested around several dozen Ukrainian troops landed on June 24 and Russian airborne units have been trying to dislodge them since.

Another video shows a small boat carrying perhaps a dozen Ukrainian soldiers landing by the ruined bridge, coming under shell fire.

The Russian military blogger account, Two Majors, reported a small group of Ukrainian soldiers had succeeded in digging in around the bridge. It noted Russian forces had been forced to pull back to a distance from the bank because their positions had been flooded after the Kakhovka dam was blown up earlier this month.

Russian military bloggers said Russian aircraft and artillery were firing on the Ukrainians Monday.

If Ukraine is able to keep hold of its foothold, it will put further pressure on Russia’s forces in the south, already battling to hold back Ukraine’s counteroffensive on the Zaporizhzhia front.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 25, 2:05 PM EDT
Exiled Russian oligarch supports Russian mercenary group’s rebellion

In the wake of Saturday’s short-lived attempted rebellion against the Kremlin by the Wagner private military company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled oligarch considered one of Putin’s best-known opponents, told ABC News he supports the mutiny and encourages Russians to back the leader of the mercenary group.

Once Russia’s richest man, Khodorkovsky, a Putin opposition activist, spent 10 years imprisoned after he challenged Putin, his case now considered a foundational moment for Putin’s regime.

When Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin and his fighters marched on Moscow Saturday before making a sudden about-face, Khodorkovsky was notable among Russia’s pro-democracy opposition in calling on people to support Prigozhin, arguing that allowing him to remove Putin would create an opportunity for the democrats.

Khodorkovsky told ABC News he believed Prigozhin’s actions were a real coup attempt and that it had “seriously undermined” Putin’s power. He predicted that similar opportunities to collapse the regime will be launched soon.

“The blow to Putin’s reputation, to the authorities’ reputation, was absolutely fantastical,” Khodorkovsky said. “Putin’s government today is, without a doubt, strongly undermined by what happened — his authority, his ability to control the security services is seriously undermined.”

Khodorkovsky said Prigozhin’s march on Moscow had undermined Putin’s popularity, showing neither ordinary Russians nor the security services were prepared to act to protect him.

“Along the entire route of Wagner’s columns, no one in any way tried to hinder him (Prigozhin). Even the security forces did not try to stop him,” Khodorkovsky said. “It showed that, in fact, inside the country, Putin has an absolute void.”

Khodorkovsky said he did not support Prigozhin himself — considering him a “war criminal” — but that the democratic opposition should have sought to help him overthrow Putin, and then taken power from him after.

Khodorkovsky criticized other parts of the anti-Kremlin opposition who attacked him for calling on people to assist Prigozhin, saying he believed the opposition had “slept through” the opportunity and suggesting it should have sought to stage a rebellion in Moscow at the same time.

“There will definitely now be more such opportunities because of Putin’s weakening. But the next time we need to simply be more ready,” said Khodorkovsky, who is living in exile in England. “If an uprising had started in Moscow to meet Prigozhin then a situation could have developed quite differently.

-ABC News’ Patrick Reevell

Jun 24, 6:53 PM EDT
US official says it’s a ‘mystery’ why Prigozhin stopped march to Moscow

A senior U.S. official says it is a mystery as to why Yevgeny Prigozhin stopped his march to Moscow given that he was seemingly in a dominant position.

The official said he was greeted as a hero in Rostov-on-Don. However, the senior official told ABC News that Prigozhin is in an “emotional state,” and perhaps did it because he thought this would destroy Russia, or because he glimpsed his own end. It is impossible to tell whether Prigozhin thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin will actually honor their deal which included allowing Wagner group soldiers to be folded into the Russian military.

The official said that Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was very effective, telling Prigozhin and Putin that this was all a misunderstanding and that they are both patriots and aligned for the same goals.

Putin is said to be completely shocked by how fast Wagner Group moved through Russia. For now, he is just trying to secure his position. He does not want to be seen negotiating over his defense minister, but the official says the U.S. believes concessions were made over Sergei Shoigu’s future as well as others.

-ABC News’ Martha Raddatz

Jun 25, 3:56 AM EDT
Moscow highway restrictions remain, Russian media reports

Travel restrictions remained in place on Sunday on the major M-4 highway near Moscow, according to Russia’s state-run media.

“According to the previously issued regional decisions, traffic restrictions remain in force on the M-4 Don highway near the Moscow Region and the Tula Region,” the federal road agency said, according to TASS.

The security checkpoints had been put in place Saturday as a column of Wagner Group forces traveled toward Moscow. Roadblocks in southern Russia, including in Rostov-on-Don and the Krasnodar Region, were reportedly lifted.

“All previously imposed restrictions on highways have been lifted,” TASS reported, citing a branch of the Russian Interior Ministry.

-ABC News’ KJ Edelman

Jun 24, 10:20 PM EDT
‘Gang of 8’ briefed about Wagner Group movements

Senior congressional leaders were briefed about the ongoing situation in Russia, according to a congressional aide.

U.S. intelligence officials told the so-called “Gang of Eight” — the top Republicans and Democrats currently in congressional leadership– in recent days about potentially concerning movements of Wagner Group forces and equipment build-ups near Russia. However, it was unclear to U.S. intelligence what was going to happen and when.

-ABC News’ Trish Turner

Jun 24, 5:18 PM EDT
Blinken holds call with Turkish counterpart for ‘ongoing situation in Russia’

Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan to discuss the ongoing situation in Russia.

“Secretary Blinken reiterated that U.S. support for Ukraine will not change. The United States will stay in close coordination with Allies and partners as the situation develops,” spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Blinken also spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday to discuss the situation in Russia, Miller said. Blinken reiterated that support by the U.S. for Ukraine will not change.

The U.S. will stay in close coordination with Ukraine as the situation develops.

-ABC News Shannon K. Crawford

Jun 24, 4:45 PM EDT
Wagner chief will not be prosecuted, Kremlin says

Yevgeny Prigozhin will go to Belarus to ease tensions and the fighters of PMC Wagner Group who took part in the so-called “campaign” against Moscow will not be prosecuted, the Kremlin said Saturday evening.

The rest will be able to sign a contract with the Ministry of Defense, the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“In the end, we managed to resolve this situation without further losses, without raising the level of tension,” Peskov said.

“An agreement was reached that PMC Wagner would return to their camps,” he added.

Jun 24, 2:55 PM EDT
Wagner Group chief orders mercenaries to halt march on Moscow

The Wagner Group’s chief Yevgeny Prigozhin said he has ordered his mercenaries to halt their march on Moscow and return to their field camps, saying he wants to avoid shedding Russian blood.

Prigozhin made the announcement in an audio message posted on his Telegram channel.

Russian state media has shown Wagner fighters packing up and reportedly leaving Rostov.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and thanked him for his efforts de-escalating the situation.

Jun 24, 1:12 PM EDT
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cancels trip to Israel, Jordan due to situation in Russia

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has canceled his planned trip to Israel and Jordan due to the situation in Russia. The trip was to have begun Saturday.

Milley also spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi.

“They discussed the unprovoked and ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and exchanged perspectives and assessments. The Chairman reaffirmed unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to Joint Staff spokesperson Col. Dave Butler.

The Pentagon said Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is monitoring the ongoing situation in Russia and will continue to be briefed on any significant developments.

Jun 24, 12:47 PM EDT
Moscow suspends schools, events until July 1

Andrey Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region, has suspended mass events outdoors and at educational institutions until July 1.

Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin urged residents to refrain from traveling around the city. Monday was also declared a non-working day for the city. Sobyanin said that a counter-terrorism regime was declared in Moscow and that the situation was difficult.

Jun 24, 12:34 PM EDT
Biden speaks with leaders of France, Germany, UK about ‘situation in Russia’

President Joe Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak about the developments in Russia.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were also briefed by their national security team on the developments in Russia and will continue to receive updates throughout the day, the White House said Saturday.

Jun 24, 10:11 AM EDT
Wagner troop column 300 miles south of Moscow, Russian media say
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The governor of the Lipetsk region, which is about 300 miles south of Moscow, said a column of Wagner troops has been spotted in the region, Russian state media reports.

Jun 24, 9:15 AM EDT
What is the Wagner Group?

The Wagner Group is a private military organization run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, with tens of thousands of fighters, according to U.S. officials.

Earlier this year, the U.S. labeled the group a “significant transnational criminal organization” and levied new sanctions, while human rights observers this week said they suspected Wagner fighters were linked to the mass killing of people in Mali last year.

Government reports, statements from U.S. officials and insights from experts, as well as other sources, shed light on the Wagner group’s history and goals, its alleged wrongdoings and its importance to Russia — in Ukraine and elsewhere in the world.

Jun 24, 7:24 AM EDT
NATO monitoring Russian situation, official says

A NATO representative said the alliance was watching what was happening in Russia on Saturday.

“We are monitoring the situation,” spokesperson Oana Lungescu said.

Jun 24, 6:31 AM EDT
‘Operational combat’ underway north of Rostov, official sa
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A governor of the Voronezh region, about 300 miles south of Moscow, says Russia’s armed forces are conducting “operational combat operations” there as part of “counter terrorism operation.”

Earlier the region’s government reported a column of Wagner Group fighters was moving through the region, an area between Rostov-on-Don and Moscow.

“In the bounds of the counterterrorist operation on the territory of the Voronezh region, the armed forces of the Russian Federation are conducting necessary operational combat operations,” the official said. “We will inform further about the development of the situation.”

Jun 24, 6:03 AM EDT
Russia in ‘so much chaos that no lie can hide it,’ Zelenskyy says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russia appeared to be suffering “full-scale weakness” after the Wagner Group mercenaries said they’d taken hold of a key Russian city.

“Russia used propaganda to mask its weakness and the stupidity of its government. And now there is so much chaos that no lie can hide it,” he said on Twitter.

Jun 24, 5:47 AM EDT
Prigozhin responds to Putin, says Wagner not going to surrender

The Wagner Group’s Yevgeny Prigozhin responded to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s calling him a “traitor,” by saying he will not surrender or turn back.

“Putin was deeply mistaken about the betrayal. We are patriots of our homeland, we fought and are fighting,” Prighozin said in an audio message. “No one is going to turn around at the request of the president, the FSB or anyone else, because we do not want the country to live longer in corruption, deception and bureaucracy.”

Prigozhin accused Russia’s military of targeting a Wagner column with helicopters and jets.

Jun 24, 5:37 AM EDT
Chechen leader backs Putin, says forces moving into ‘zones of tension’

The powerful head of Chechnya, the semi-independent Russian region, Ramzan Kadyrov, said on Saturday he supported President Vladimir Putin.

Kadyrov saiud he fully backs Putin and called Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s actions “treacherous.”

Kadyrov has tens of thousands of heavily armed fighters. He said his forces are already moving to “zones of tension.”

It raises prospect of Chechen forces fighting with Wagner Group troops.

Kadyrov has previously been friendly with Prigozhin — his coming out in support of Putin is a boost for Putin, but also raises prospect of serious clashes in Russia.

Jun 24, 5:27 AM EDT
Next 48 hours ‘will define’ Russia, Zelenskyy advisor sa
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Russian leaders are “now choosing which side they are on,” an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Saturday.

“The next 48 hours will define the new status of Russia,” Mykhailo Podolyak said on Twitter. “Either a full-fledged Civil War, or a negotiated Transit of Power, or a temporary respite before the next phase of the downfall of the Putin regime.”

He added, “A deafening ‘elite’ silence is in Russia so far…”

Jun 24, 3:52 AM EDT
Uprising ‘significant challenge’ to Russian state, UK says

Members of the mercenary Wagner Group have begun moving north “almost certainly aiming to get to Moscow,” in what amounts to the “most significant challenge to the Russian state in recent times,” the U.K. Ministry of Defense said on Saturday.

“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,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Jun 24, 3:25 AM EDT
Putin: Wagner Group moves are ‘stab in the back’

Russian President Vladimir Putin said moves taken by Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, a longtime ally, to bring his troops into a key Russian city amounted to a “stab in the back.”

Putin didn’t mention Prigozhin by name, but said that “necessary orders have been given” to defend Russia in a recorded address aired on Russian television on Saturday.

“Actions that divide our unity are in essence defeatism before one’s own people,” he said. “This is a stab in the back of our country and our people.”

Jun 24, 3:12 AM EDT
Kremlin briefs Putin on ‘attempted armed rebellion’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been briefed by the country’s security agencies about what was referred to as an “attempted armed rebellion,” according to Russia’s state-run media.

The late-night statement from Putin’s spokesman suggested that the Kremlin considered Wagner Group’s move into Rostov-on-Don, a key Russian city close to the border with Ukraine, to be a “rebellion.”

Wagner’s founder Yevgeny Prigozhin in an audio message on Friday claimed his forces would now punish Russia’s defense minister and chief of general staff, telling other units to stand down and not offer resistance.

“Special services, law enforcement agencies, namely the Ministry of Defense, the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Rosgvardiya, in round-the-clock mode, constantly report to the president on the measures taken in the context of the implementation of the instructions previously given to him,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday.

Jun 24, 2:42 AM EDT
Wagner Group claims control over Rostov military facilities, airport

Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of the Wagner Group, said on Saturday that the headquarters of the Southern Military District and all military facilities in Rostov-on-Don were under his control.

Prigozhin in a video demanded that Kremlin bring him Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Sergei Shoigu.

He also threatened in the video that he would go to Moscow.

“We will destroy anyone who stands in our way,” he said in one of a series of video and audio recordings posted on social media.

He added, “We are moving forward and will go until the end.”

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