Prigozhin declared "war" on Shoygu: Wagner PMC "seized" Rostov, fighting in Voronezh Region, tanks are being moved to Moscow. Photo and video (updated)
A confrontation between the Wagner PMC and the Russian Ministry of Defence is escalating in Russia. After the announcement by the PMC owner Yevgeny Prigozhin of his intentions to "deal with" the Russian military command, the armed men appeared in Rostov-on-Don and surrounded the headquarters of the Southern Military District, as well as a number of buildings, including the Interior Ministry, the FSB and the city administration.
In response, the authorities announced a "Fortress" plan, while a large number of military vehicles have been spotted in Rostov, Voronezh and Smolensk regions, and gunfire has broken out in the streets. Russian media reported on this, while Russian President Vladimir Putin made an urgent appeal to Russians and declared "treason".
As early as the evening of 23 June, armoured vehicles were brought into the centre of Rostov-on-Don. They were spotted on Prospect Budyonnovsk and armed police patrols in heavy gear appeared on nearby streets. The security forces declared a "fortress" plan: personnel were told to be on full alert.
A convoy of military hardware was also seen in the Voronezh region. It was seen on the M-4 "Don" federal highway. Local authorities asked residents to "temporarily stay off the M-4 "Don" federal highway and individual vehicles.
Subsequently, reports of gunfire in the region began to emerge. According to RosSMI reports, a gun battle continued at dawn near Pavlovsk in the Voronezh region, the entire toll road section of M-4 was closed, a convoy of military equipment, including tanks, was on the road and a lorry was on fire.
"The situation is under control. The region's security agencies are taking all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of the region's residents," reads the message of the Voronezh regional government.
Reuters reported that the "Prigozhinites" might have also seized military facilities in Voronezh, but journalists were unable to find any confirmation of this information.
"A source in the Russian security service told Reuters that Wagner fighters had also taken control of military facilities in the city of Voronezh, which is about 500km south of Moscow. Reuters could not independently confirm this claim or many of the details provided by Prigozhin," the publication noted.
At midday, local media reported fighting between the army and the Wagnerians.
"Fighting has started in the village of Rogachevka in Voronezh Region. Local residents are being evacuated. In addition, according to the publication, soldiers of the Wagner PMC have been spotted near the local oil depot," a Russian media outlet wrote.
Military equipment has also appeared on the streets of Smolensk.
Meanwhile, in the early hours of the morning, Russian media started reporting that tanks and APCs were moving along the central street of Rostov-on-Don towards the headquarters of the Southern Military District.
"Entrances to Rostov-on-Don from the direction of Aksai, Novocherkassk are blocked with special equipment. The M-4 "Don" motorway is also reported to be closed. Police officers are on duty at the scene. A huge traffic jam has been formed," writes one of the Russian publicity groups.
After some time mercenaries of the Wagner PMC began to move along the streets of Rostov. They, according to Russian media, began to storm the headquarters of the Southern Military District.
Subsequently, the Russian media started reporting that "unknown people in camouflage" were interested in several other buildings in the city.
"In Rostov-on-Don, unidentified people in camouflage have cordoned off the headquarters of the Southern Military District, the police department at Budennovskoye, the Interior Ministry headquarters, the FSB directorate, and the city administration," a local publication wrote, citing videos sent in by readers from the scene.
Kremlin TASS propagandists have identified "unknown men in camouflage" as "Wagnerites". That's how they captioned the photo from Rostov.
And Ruslan Leviev, founder of the Conflict Intelligence Team, claims that the men in camouflage in the video and photos from downtown Rostov-on-Don are members of the Russian defence ministry.
"They are not 'encircling their own' but taking positions around the building to defend it. At the same time, the enemy may already be close by, so we need to control the situation around them, the roofs of houses, the windows," Leviev wrote.
As an argument, he cited the presence of armed men in military police vehicles. Leviev attributed the motley uniforms to the fact that the servicemen were on alert: "Those who had time to dress in what they wore arrived with it. Everyone was roused on alert".
The governor of the Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, also made a strange statement. He promised to "maintain the normal functioning of all urban systems" and "hear regular reports".
"I have given the necessary instructions to the Rostov city administration and life support services of Rostov to take the necessary measures to preserve normal functioning of all the city systems. I keep the matter under control and regularly listen to the reports. Once again, I beg Rostov citizens not to leave their homes unnecessarily and not to come into the centre of the Don capital, "- Golubev wrote.
Meanwhile, machine-gunners have positioned themselves on the streets of Rostov. Locals assure us that there are Wagnerians as well as army men in the city.
The possible arrival of "SVO heroes" from among the mercenaries of the Wagner PMC was also feared in Moscow. Sergey Sobyanin, the mayor of the Russian capital, announced that anti-terrorist measures are being carried out in Moscow, and additional control on the roads has been introduced
"In connection with the information received in Moscow, anti-terrorist measures aimed at strengthening security measures are being carried out. Additional control on the roads has been introduced. Restrictions on the holding of mass events are possible. I ask you to be sympathetic to the measures being taken," he said.
Later it became known that roadblocks were being set up at the entrance to Moscow.
And around 9am a counter-terrorist operation was announced in the Russian capital and the Moscow region.
"A counter-terrorist operation regime has been introduced in Moscow and the Moscow region - the NAC. According to the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, this was done in order to suppress possible terrorist attacks," Russian media reported.
At noon it became known that tanks were being brought to Moscow. Tractors with armored vehicles were seen on the M-4 highway near the Lipetsk region.
Meanwhile, Prigozhin has already claimed that three helicopters of the Russian Armed Forces have been shot down. One of them, the oligarch assured Prigozhin, "is burning to a halt" and the other was apparently shot down by the Wagnerians after it "wrecked a bus with civilians" when it attacked the mercenaries.
The information about the three downed helicopters is also confirmed in the pro-war RF publicity. Two Mi-8s and one Mi-35 are reportedly hit.
The Russian Defence Ministry did not comment on these reports.
Also, Prigozhin said that Russian soldiers, Russian guards and police are taking the side of the mercenaries.
"Fighting is taking place in places where the military leadership is giving false information to the fighters and therefore clashes are taking place. Where the soldiers meet us, the Federal Service of the National Guard of the Russian Federation and the police, then they wave their hands cheerfully and many of them say: 'We want to go with you. There are already 60-70 people who joined us, although we have not gone far yet. I think half of the army is ready to go with us.
According to him, the mercenaries control military facilities in Rostov, including the airfield.
Prigozhin also issued an ultimatum to the authorities: if Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and General Staff Chief Valery Gerasimov do not come to the Defense Ministry's headquarters in Rostov-on-Don, the mercenaries will block off Rostov and go to Moscow.
The oligarch, meanwhile, accused the Russian military of striking at the Russian population and of "wrecking a busload of civilians" when they attacked the mercenaries from a helicopter.
Meanwhile, Russian top propagandists are still undecided about how to comment on the latest events without methodological instructions from the Kremlin. For example, Vladimir Solovyov suddenly changed his mind to talk about "Prigozhin's provocation" and decided to concentrate on discussing youth day, US-China relations and child suicides.
Interestingly, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a representative of the Russian opposition, sided with Prigozhin. He called for help for the mercenary ringleader to reach Moscow and "help people hear Prigozhin while he is telling the truth".
At around 10am, Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted to the events. He gave an urgent address to the Russians and in particular to the Russian military and Wagner mercenaries.
Putin said that Russia had been betrayed because of "immoderate ambitions" and said that "turmoil" threatened Russia, which was waging war against Ukraine.
The dictator said that Russia was facing treason and a "stab in the back", while he did not mention Prigozhin's name once in the address.
He called for "an end to involvement in criminal actions" and promised "harsh action" and "imminent punishment" for those who carry out the armed uprising and help it.
"Any internal turmoil is a deadly threat to our statehood... All those who deliberately took the path of rebellion will be punished," Putin said.
Among other things, Putin said in the speech that the situation in Rostov-on-Don remains "complicated".
Judging by the videos appearing on the net, the situation is indeed "complicated". Residents of Rostov are fighting amongst themselves on the streets because some support Prigozhin and some support Putin.
"As long as you don't get the city fucked up. Did you hear what Putin said?" - shouts one man to another in the square in Rostov.
The Russians were subsequently dispersed from the square.
Around 11 o'clock it became known that columns of Wagnerians had set out from Voronezh to Moscow. In response, the Russian army air force started to attack the road along which the mercenaries were travelling. FABs are allegedly being dropped on the route.
"The air force is working in the same way, cast-iron is being used. The civil war has officially started," notes one of the Wagner PMC-affiliated publicity groups.
"The aviation has started working along the M4 highway. This is bad for Crimea, the land corridor to Crimea will be closed. The AFU failed to achieve this and the internal turmoil eliminated it in less than 24 hours. It is important to optimize the work of the ferries and the Crimean bridge," Crimean traitor Aleksandr Talipov began to lament.
Meanwhile, a report that the Wagnerians allegedly shot down another Russian Armed Forces military helicopter is circulating in Russian public forums.
"The helicopter that tried to attack us has just been shot down," the Wagner PMC said.
Also, a Russian "war correspondent" published a video of a Russian warplane allegedly shot down by mercenaries.
A publicity board close to the self-proclaimed president of Belarus reported that the Belarusian dictator had spoken on the phone with his Russian counterpart as early as in the morning. Putin, they say, informed him about the events in the Russian Federation related to the Prigozhin mutiny.
After that, the Belarusian media reported, the presidential plane left Belarus - and has already landed in Turkey.
Meanwhile, former Belarusian paratrooper Sakhashchyk appealed to the Belarusian military to use the "historic chance" to overthrow Lukashenko's dictatorial regime.
Recall that the day before Prigozhin accused the Russian Defense Ministry of shelling the positions of PMC "Wagner," which allegedly resulted in the death and injury of a large number of mercenaries. The Defence Ministry called the accusations a provocation. However, "Putin's cook" announced that he would take revenge and "liberate Russia".
A criminal case was opened against Prigozhin for calling for sedition, and the FSB demanded that the Wagnerians detain Prigozhin.
Overnight it became known that a "Fortress" plan was announced in Moscow and the Rostov Region: security forces are looking for Prigozhin and the "Wagnerites".