Defecting Wagner mercenery boss Yevgeny Prigozhin has said his 25,000-strong force is “ready to die” after they seized the city of Rostov-on-Don, as Moscow’s mayor announces anti-terrorist measures to reinforce security in the capital city.
The BBC reports Sergey Sobyanin wrote on Telegram: “In connection with the incoming information, anti-terrorist measures are being taken in Moscow aimed at strengthening security measures.
“Additional control on the roads has been introduced.
An armoured personnel carrier is seen on a street of the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Russia. (Reuters)
“It is possible to limit the holding of public events. Please consider the measures taken with understanding.”
Earlier today the leader of the private Wagner army withdrew from their positions in Ukraine and took their forces into Russia itself, taking the city of more than a million people.
He said the Russian military was responding with aerial attacks on Rostov.
“Because we are dying for the Russian people, that must be liberated from those people who are striking at the civilian population, which they just hit in Rostov from helicopters,” Prigozhin said.
“The Wagner units are intact, the helicopter is destroyed and is burning in the forest.
“We will take it as a threat and destroy everything around us.”
He claimed that the chief of the General Staff, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, scrambled warplanes to strike Wagner’s convoys, which were driving alongside ordinary vehicles.
“He doesn’t care who he kills,” Prigozhin said.
“They have been killing their civilians for a year and a half instead of fighting the enemy.
CNN cannot confirm Prigozhin’s account of an aerial attack.
Rostov region Governor Vasily Golubev is asking residents to stay calm and to not leave their homes.
“Law enforcement agencies are doing everything necessary to ensure the safety of the region’s residents.
“I ask everyone to stay calm and do not leave your homes unless it is necessary.”
A Russian state media correspondent said the situation is calm in Rostov-on-Don and a street closure is only partial.
Rostov-on-Don is Russia’s eleventh largest city, with a population of over a million people.
The city is a part of a vital supply line for the Russian troops in Ukraine.
Prigozhin posted a series of angry video and audio recordings in which he accused Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu of ordering a rocket strike on Wagner’s field camps in Ukraine, where his troops are fighting on behalf of Russia.
Prigozhin said his troops would now punish Shoigu in an armed rebellion and urged the army not to offer resistance.
“This is not a military coup, but a march of justice,” Prigozhin declared.
The security services reacted immediately by opening a criminal investigation into Prigozhin and calling for his arrest.
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin says that “anti-terrorist measures” are being carried out in the city as a result of “incoming information,” according to an update on his Telegram group.
“In connection with the incoming information, antiterrorist measures are being taken in Moscow aimed at strengthening security measures,” Sobyanin said.
The measures include “additional control on the roads” and “limitations on holding public events.”
The National Anti-Terrorism Committee, which is part of the Federal Security Services, or FSB, said he would be investigated on charges of calling for an armed rebellion.
The FSB urged Wagner’s contract soldiers to arrest Prigozhin and refuse to follow his “criminal and treacherous orders.”
It called his statements a “stab in the back to Russian troops” and said they amounted to fomenting an armed conflict in Russia.
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